i am way into chickens. not chicken as in roast chicken with forty cloves of garlic or as in beer can barbecue chicken on the grill (although those are two dishes i’ve been planning to make), but as in real, live, squawking, peck-you-if-you-get-too-close, yes-i-will-bestow-upon-you-many-fresh-and-delicious-eggs kind of chickens.
throughout sxsw, i was lucky enough to stay at the wonderfully warm and welcoming home of aris, orion, and mark. these three played host to a bunch of loud and crazy go gamers who took over the living room with about 9243 huge suitcases of gear. people even slept in tents in the backyard, where they shared sleeping space with six chickens, all with their own funny name, unique coloring, and distinct personality.
i’ve recently been really into buying good eggs from humanely treated chickens and making dishes that showcase the taste of the egg. the yolks are so much deeper in color and in flavor and make some seriously delicious scrambled eggs. but who needs local, cage-free, farm-fresh eggs when you can have BACKYARD FRESH EGGS? imagine being able to step outside every day and pick up a half dozen of the most gorgeous and subtly colored just-laid eggs from happy chickens who have just spent the whole day exploring the backyard, rooting around in the dirt, and eating scrumptious feed pellets and leftover dinner. don’t these dirty, irregularly shaped, pale sea foam green and brown eggs look like they will be the best tasting eggs in the world?
i made some slow scrambled eggs for breakfast one morning in austin and there were undeniably the best eggs i’ve ever had. the oblong slightly-skinnier-than-supermarket-eggs had a tougher shell and a larger, deeper orange yolk, and turned out to have a phenomenally rich taste and a seriously sublime texture. it’s really hard to describe, but imagine…you’re eating your down comforter. okay, that doesn’t really work. imagine your scrambled eggs with the lightness and fluffiness of the best quality down, but also the solid weight and heft of having a thick comforter wrapped around you, all combined with the luxurious satisfaction and comfort of snuggling up in a warm bed on a cold day. that’s what those eggs tasted like. that’s what scrambled eggs should taste like, and i can personally attest to the huge difference between scrambling your eggs in a bowl and tossing them onto high heat for three minutes and the magic of taking twenty minutes to make your eggs.
until very recently, i was all about the quick and dirty eggs. however, at some point, i started reading more and more about cooking your eggs extremely slowly. apparently the proteins in the egg bond quickly over high heat, resulting in a much tougher, rubbery texture. this article from the northen michigan record-eagle (you know, i follow them on twitter:) does a great job explaining the process. i also watched kwame produce his amuse bouche of slow scrambled eggs topped with a sprinkle of bacon bits at the bacon smackdown and i remember being shocked that he just left the pan on the stove, had people stir it fairly constantly, and ran about the house doing other things for over twenty minutes. of course, the eggs turned out to be smooth, creamy curds of happiness.
but enough about the eggs. part of the concept of slow or real food is understanding where your food came from. when you go to visit a farm, you don’t just get introduced to the strawberries and the cow and the potatoes and the pig, do you? no, you meet the producer. you meet the farmer who grows the crops or raises the goats, or in this case, you meet the chickens who laid those delicious treasures.
tatum o’neal, on the left, is pleased to make your acquaintance. josephine p. feathers, however, is bored by you. she would rather eat feed pellets from marko’s hands. no offense or anything, but you are not of much interest when there is a belly to fill.
magua, named after the bad guy in last of the mohicans, was on his way over to say hello, but got distracted by something.
in case you’re wondering if i had to risk life and limb to get up in some chicken faces to take these photos, the answer is yes. with no regard for my own safety but focused on the ultimate goal, i stuck my camera right up close to their beaks while they jostled for position around the pot of food. most of the chickens weren’t too bothered by it, but one chicken particularly resented my intrusion on her eating time and showed it by aggressively going after me with her dangerously sharp beak. meet my nemesis, the fearsome and terrifyingly evil ruler of the chicken coop, DARTH PECKA.
click below to send dark chills of foreboding down your spine while you gaze into the face of pure evil.
yes, that is actually her real name, although apparently orion named her before she started aggressively pecking people and trying to destroy the rebel alliance. sometimes the power of the dark side can be intuitively sensed by those who are one with the force. she went after me with her most deadly weapon (beak, not light saber) and i still have the scar to prove it.
here’s a group photo of a bunch of the chickens eating aris’s leftover lentil soup deliciousness. i believe the only one who has not yet been introduced is the uniquely colored koschka who shines almost like mother-of-pearl all the way on the left.
i’ve saved my favorite picture for last. chupacabra, the sixth and final chicken of the roost, has no idea of the sick joke he has unwittingly gotten himself into. or, to be precise, stepped onto.
waiter, i’d like a plate of your most delicious chicken. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
oh chickens and your yummy eggs, someday you will be mine. aris, marko, orion, tim, and ian (the o.g. chicken farmer in my life), thanks for dropping some chicken-owning knowledge. i’m inspired to join your ranks.