Ask Chef Lynn Crawford about ostrich eggs, and her enthusiasm is as obvious as a five-pound embryo. “They’re beautiful bone white, they’ve got this lovely patina to them and unbelievable thickness. And the yolk! It’s a beautiful, beautiful product,” she says.
But for the contestants who found ostrich eggs in their Chopped Canada mystery baskets, surprise trumped enthusiasm. Chef Lynn loved watching their facial expressions as they registered the enormity of the eggs before them.
“The sheer weight of them is what I find just astonishing,” she says. “They can be anywhere from three and a half to five pounds, and the equivalent of two dozen chicken eggs. So right then and there, to come up with a dish to use the entire ostrich egg — would they cook it in time?”
But deciding how to cook the ostrich eggs was the contestants’ second problem — figuring out how to crack them was the first.
Chef Lynn keeps a carpenter’s hammer in her kitchen toolkit to achieve this challenging task. “You can’t expect to break that egg with a spoon or crack it over the side of a mixing bowl,” she says. “It’s extremely hard, the shell. You need either a hammer or a chisel or some sort of power tool to get into the egg.”
If you ever want to challenge yourself to cook an ostrich egg, scrambling is the simplest preparation. You can coax the liquid interior from a small hole without worrying about keeping the yolk intact. A small hole also preserves more of the shell for later use as a serving dish.
“In New York we had scrambled ostrich egg if it was for special brunch, with the addition of caviar,” says Chef Lynn. “I think caviar and lobster is delicious, and straight up parmesan cheese. But you’re not going to have a soft boiled egg on your restaurant menu because it would take an hour and a half to cook.”
Topped with haute additions, and served in its own shell, scrambled ostrich egg is easy to cook and stunning to serve. “It has a lot of wow factor and it’s a beautiful thing,” she says.
If you’re lucky you might come across the gigantic eggs at your local butchers or specialty grocers, but if you don’t see them there, ask for a special order. Better yet, find an ostrich farm in your area and visit it directly for a peek at the mammoth birds.
“Look at the size of the shell — it’s a real showstopper,” says Chef Lynn. “I think everybody should try to cook an ostrich egg at least once. And for some of those chefs that did compete, it’s probably the last time they will, too.”
Chopped Canada airs Saturdays at 9PM E/P.