Pullet Eggs

Photo: Hannah Whitaker. Illustrations by John Burgoyne.

It’s egg season at the Greenmarket. Prompted by the longer days of spring, hens and pullets (chickens under a year old) begin to lay at a steady clip. Compared with the average supermarket variety, eggs from contented, pastured chickens produce richer yolks and perkier whites. Some aficionados swear by the smaller pullet egg, which Txikito’s Alex Raij believes makes for an extra-creamy and delicious “yolk flan.”

Alex Raij’s Flan de Yema

For caramel:
3/4 cup sugar

For custard:
4 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
3/4 cup sugar, divided
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. Madagascar
vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk
1 cup crème fraîche
Almond oil to finish optional

Preheat oven to 300. To prepare molds: Place 6 4-ounce ramekins or small cups in a large baking dish, the bottom lined with a wet paper towel. In a small pan over medium-high heat, melt the 3/4 cup of sugar until the bottom starts to color and smoke begins to plume. Reduce heat, and quickly whisk until the sugar dissolves and turns into a uniform blond caramel. Pour a small amount of caramel into each mold, turning it to evenly coat the bottom. For custard: Place a fine mesh strainer over a pot or pitcher. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, bring milk and half of the remaining sugar to a simmer while stirring. Remove from heat. (1) In a large bowl, combine egg yolks, eggs, salt, remaining sugar, and vanilla. Whisk in the crème fraîche, then the warm milk, and (2) strain. Pour or ladle custard into molds. Place the baking dish on the oven rack, and pour very hot water in the dish to reach 2/3 of the way up the outside of the molds. Cover the dish loosely with foil, leaving the sides open to vent steam. Bake 35 minutes or until custard is just barely set in the middle and firmly set along the edge. Chill. To serve, (3) run a knife around the perimeter and gently tug the edge of the flan toward the center to release. Place a plate over the ramekin, flip, and unmold. Drizzle with almond oil.

Pullet Eggs