The Devil is in the Details: Duck Eggs al Diavolo
I’m currently battling a minor fascination with all things duck. I can trace it back to its origin- the amazing duck egg raviolo I was served at top Seattle restaurant Spring Hill. Since then I’ve cured duck breast into prosciutto, used duck eggs yolks in pasta dough (amazingly elastic!), poached the eggs to perfection, and even fried an egg up on my slab of pink Himalayan salt. When I was a child of five, my father got the idea in his head that he wanted to dapple in farming and ranching, so he uprooted our bi-racial family from a happy if crowded existence in southern California and transplanted us to a freshly purchased homestead with acreage in BFE Idaho. The folks in the small town didn’t quite know what to make of a middle-aged white guy with his dark-skinned bride (my mother), her two black teenagers (my half-siblings) and a four-year-old towhead who thought she was a boy and ran around naked all the time (me). Consequently, our family was largely left to devise our own elaborate entertainment. Since my brother and sister were busy fighting with each other and trying to master the art of break-dancing in the pasture, I made friends with the dogs and ducks.
To my mind, the ducks had spunk the chickens couldn’t even dream of, and one in particular really ruled the roost. That duck had herding tendencies that put the whole gaggle of animals in a dither whenever she came around. The two dogs were so afraid of her they would run the other way every time she waddled toward their comfortable lounging pads perched on the porch. She somehow always used to get in a few nips to their hindquarters before they could extricate themselves from her menacing beak. It’s quite a sight watching a full-grown black lab cower in fear of a mama duck, of course eventually the dogs had their day of vindication and I had the misfortune to witness my first and only head-lopping, but that’s a sad tale for another time.
That duck had her favorites around the farm though there were only two of us, me and the adorably dopey young calf I had christened “Slobber.” Slobber, Ducky and I were three peas in a pod for a few months one summer; unfortunately I was the only one who saw September that year. Eventually my father grew tired of the rural lifestyle and moved us to a slightly larger suburban city (still in Idaho) and I grew tired of eating things like cows and ducks since I had counted them amongst my dearest friends during quite a difficult time. My period of vegetarianism ensued, and lasted almost 20 years. Now that I’ve been eating meat again for nearly a decade, I still wholly appreciate where it comes from and take care to revere what I prepare. I think my current duck fascination takes me back to simpler times, and oddly, the art of eating brings me closer to those treasured souls from my past.
These deviled duck eggs were born from my desire to use the eggs in an innovative way, and also to compose multiple facets of the dish from the same ingredient and still have it taste different yet complementary, hence the duck egg mayonnaise. The mayonnaise by itself is divine- worth making for sandwiches, dips, and anything that would really showcase its rich flavor. It’s so easy to do, and there is no contest in the taste comparison with store-bought mayo. Duck eggs have a rich fullness that even farm fresh chicken eggs can’t match, and mayonnaise and deviled eggs are perfect vehicles to demonstrate that flavor fact. If you’re making these for a party, make extra- somehow two entire trays disappeared in 10 minutes and I still haven’t gotten the revelers to fess up who could possibly have eaten that many!
Deviled Duck Eggs
Makes 12 halves
- 6 duck eggs
- ½ tsp dry mustard
- 4 tbsp homemade duck egg mayonnaise (recipe follows)
- 1 ½ tsp cider vinegar
- Dash Worcestershire sauce
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Paprika for garnish
- Place duck eggs in saucepan and fill with water 1” above eggs. Bring to boil, allow to boil two minutes, cover, remove heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Remove lid and cool in ice-water for 5 minutes. Peel and halve eggs, taking care not to rip them. Place yolks in a small bowl and whites on a serving platter.
- Mash up egg yolks until no lumps remain. Add remaining ingredients except for paprika and mix with a rubber spatula until smooth. Spoon into a quart-sized plastic bag, cut the tip of the corner off and pipe into egg whites. Garnish with paprika and serve soon. If you want to make ahead, do everything except piping the yolk mixture, refrigerate, and pipe when ready to serve.
Duck Egg Mayonnaise
- 1 duck egg
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Dash Worcestershire sauce
- 1 scant tbsb lemon juice
- Pinch dry mustard
- Black pepper
- 1-1 ¼ c canola oil
- Mix all ingredients except oil in food processor for 30 seconds. Add oil to desired consistency through tube in steady stream over the course of one minute. Do not over mix. Mayonnaise should keep in refrigerator up to three days.