Impossibly Cold Weather Homestead Chicken Eggs

homestead chicken eggsWe consider our chickens to reside more in the pet-realm than as a production element of the farm. Sure, they're an important part of our plan with fresh chicken eggs coming in daily, but when you name them and can recognize each by their personality, chickens end up getting treated a little better. 

At least, that's the laying hens and Bruce the Rooster. The meat chickens are approached on an all-business relationship with a one-way ride to the butcher after two months or so. But for our long-term ladies, it's all about love and a lot of care. Especially at this time of year, where breezy days and cold nights can cause havoc with homestead chickens. 

Homestead chicken eggs are in a realm all of their own. Farm fresh eggs are rich and colorful and come from happy hens. In a cold weather environment, this means extra attention to feed and basic comforts like clean bedding and protection from the elements. Our ladies are special, and we all do our part to keep them healthy and producing for the table.



Homestead Chicken Eggs


homestead chicken eggs
In our current coop, we have mostly Cornish and New Hampshire blends, with a single Isa Brown (Sunshine), an Orpington (Penny) and a silky Polish (Coco) that unfortunately has dropped to the bottom of the pecking order. All three of the odd balls are beyond their laying years and simply enjoying being pets. For the Cornish/NH Reds, they were culled from the meat flock last fall to become part of the laying flock. It ended up being a smart move as they're laying fairly strong just two weeks into January. Homestead chicken eggs find their way into many of our recipes and provide a strong protein boost to our menu.

Because we still have bitterly cold nights and haven't zeroed in yet on our homestead chickens laying schedule, we're checking for eggs twice a day. Once at the morning feed and again just before they head to the roost. We aren't seeing any signs of broodiness yet, so a quick pop in to the laying boxes means no beaks pecking the backs of our hands. Yet, anyways.


Chickens that Lay Colored Eggs


chickens that lay colored eggsAs much as we take pride in our laying ladies and Bruce, we never added to the flock based on their egg colors. Ours lay good sized brown eggs, though in the past we've seen greens and blues and pinks from the birds that have come in and out of our lives. Chickens that lay colored eggs are often fancy breeds, but even some of the plainer adorned homestead chickens will have an unusual color thanks in part to a mixed genetic lineage. Easter eggers are a good example of this, with a mix of Araucana and Ameraucanas defining their breed.

Some chickens that lay colored eggs:
  • Araucanas- Blue
  • Easter Eggers- Blue, green, rose, brown, olive, cream 
  • Marans- Chocolate Brown
  • Welsummers- Chocolate Brown
  • Penedesencas- Dark Reddish Brown
Chickens that lay colored eggs are usually the ones you see in the 4-H barns at the county fair. Though I'm more partial to less haughty ladies, I can still appreciate the flair such birds bring to the homestead. The kids haven't asked for any particular breeds yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if after our first of many fairs they start making requests. Heck, we've got the room now so why not. 

Fresh Chicken Eggs


fresh chicken eggs
Fresh chicken eggs make up a good portion of our protein intake, especially now that our 12 and 22-year-olds are both pescatarians. Eggs and fish are fine, but meat is off their menu. We'll do everything from an occasional breakfast dinner to giant Sunday morning spreads, scrambling fresh chicken eggs like there's no tomorrow. Wendie and I both bake and you can bet when we cross paths with some fresh leeks and mushrooms a frittata is in our future.

One of our favorite uses for homestead fresh chicken eggs is a popovers recipe I've fiddled with enough to call my own. On the ingredients side, it's pretty standard, but the process is very specific in order to get that eggy rise and flavor found in the better restaurants and bakeries. It's a mindful, attention-to-detail process and I guarantee if you do it my way with some experimentation with your own oven temperatures, you'll be able to get the same results. You just need to dial in for your particular hot or cold running oven. And don't forget, be sure to use fresh chicken eggs.

Dad's Popovers Recipe


Ok, so it's your kitchen, so I'm not going to tell you how to run it, but if you do decide to follow my step-by-step recipe for Dad's Popover Recipe and then adjust it for your oven's temperament, I guarantee these will make you a superstar if you aren't already. It's a simple, standard batter, but the devil is in the details of the process. Our advice to is not over-whisk your eggs or batter. Don't rush it, and you'll fine.


Equipment: 


  • 6 Cup Popover Pan
  • Mixing Bowl

Ingredients:


  • 2 Fresh Chicken Eggs
  • 1 Cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1 Cup Milk
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 6 Pats Butter (salted or unsalted)


Directions:


popovers recipePreheat oven to 450F (230C). To get the most even heat, place rack in the center of the oven. 

In a medium mixing bowl, crack two fresh chicken eggs and fork whisk them together. Don't go crazy on this, just enough so the yolks are nice and blended.

After whisking the eggs, add your cup of flour, 1/2 tsp of salt and cup of milk to the bowl. Again, fork whisk to bring everything together until it just becomes smooth. Do not over-whisk as this will flatten out your batter too much. A few lumps of flour is perfectly fine and won't effect your finished popovers.

popovers recipePlace a pat of butter in each of the six cups in your popover pan. (You can use a deep muffin tin, but you won't get that traditional popovers recipe rise.) Press the butter pats lightly so the they adhere to the bottom of the cups. You don't want them floating to the surface when you begin pouring your batter.

Pour in your batter, filling each cup half-way. Do not use non-stick spray, trust me. You'll see why when the popovers are done as the butter will do the work for you. If you have extra batter, distribute evenly. Ensure no batter remains on the sides or on the cups' lips. If the batter splatter remains, it will become an obstacle for the rising popovers they bake. 

popovers recipePlace your pan on the center rack, facing front to back. Close door and set timer for 20 minutes. When the timer dings, reset oven for 350F (175C) and set timer again for 20 minutes. DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR, ever. You want the heat to naturally drop from 450 to 350. Opening the door will cause a sudden decrease of internal temperature and muck up your bake.

When the second timer dings, remove from oven and immediately pull the golden brown, high crowned and eggy popovers from the pan and place in a basket.

Serve immediately with butter.
popovers recipe
We really enjoy sharing the experiences and recipes from our off grid homestead and would love to hear from you. Let us know how your popovers recipe turned out and maybe other ways you use fresh chicken eggs. 

Homestead chickens provide so much that it's the least we can do to treat their contribution with joy and respect. 

As a note, there are many other chickens that lay colored eggs, and if you suggest them we will update the list with credit for your contribution. Join the conversation below!

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