Not all eggs are created equalI, like most city girls, grew up on commercially produced eggs. We didn't know of any other kind. In my 20s after I was back from college, I would often spend my Saturdays on back country drives through the mountains of Cuyamaca and Julian and wind my way through the sleepy town of Ramona taking pictures of landscape I found interesting and beautiful. It was at the very edges of Ramona, on my way back to "civilization" that I discovered an egg farm stand. It is to this day, a tiny drive through stand off the main highway on a dirt and gravel road the building so small in fact that if you didn't notice the signs leading up to it, you'd wind up driving past it without ever noticing as I had done on so many occasions prior. Finally noticing it, I stopped one day and picked up a flat of jumbo eggs, took them home and proceeded to make eggs for dinner that evening.
It was like I had never tasted an egg before. I had originally intended to make scrambled eggs but when I cracked open that first shell and out poured the brightest, orange-y yellow yolk and the clearest liquid surrounding it that I had ever seen, I knew I had to make over easy eggs instead.
As the eggs cooked, the yolk got even deeper, richer in color and literally, oozed out gently, thickly like golden syrup when I cut into the beautiful golden dome.
Mr. Farm Fresh Egg, where had you been all my life?
Farm fresh closer to homeA few weeks ago, I saw a post from Jackie (theseasidebaker.com) on our San Diego Food Bloggers Facebook group page asking if anyone was interested in receiving eggs from NestFresh for review. Naturally, I responded immediately. If I could find farm fresh eggs at my neighborhood grocery store and save myself the 2 hour round trip for farm fresh eggs from Ramona, I'd be a very happy camper indeed.
Less than a week later, coupons for four free dozen NestFresh Eggs arrived in the mail. I went online to find where I could buy them as my most frequently shopped store, Fresh & Easy, didn't carry them. Their website says that in California, NestFresh is available through Amazon Fresh (limited delivery areas and my 'hood isn't one of them), Albertsons, Superior, Walmart, Bristol Farms and as NatureFed at Whole Foods. My coupons specifically said NestFresh so I knew Whole Foods was out. Bristol Farms is 30 minutes away. I went to three Walmarts and didn't find them there. Finally I stopped at my local Albertsons and bingo!
Rich in color, texture and taste, these NestFresh Cage Free Eggs were every bit as delicious as I'd hoped they were. They made excellent poached eggs, beautiful sunny side up eggs and creamy bright soft scrambled eggs. Egg heaven here.
Next up is using them in baked goods and pasta carbonara.
NestFresh & Cage Free
"NestFresh strives to provide you and your family with a more sustainable, humane alternative to conventional eggs, which are produced in caged facilities. We insist on producing cage free and organic eggs to create awareness about the need for humane treatment of egg laying hens and the importance of environmental responsibility."
The NestFresh mission statement above caught my attention. Started in 1991 in Colorado by a family that wanted a company that was environmentally conscious and focused on animal welfare and sustainability. It quickly became a Colorado favorite so they decided they wanted to take it across the country. But how to do that while avoiding shipping and increasing their environmental footprint? The answer was in locally sourcing eggs.
Using regional family owned farms, NestFresh is able to provide humanely farmed fresh eggs to communities across the country. All farms in the NestFresh family voluntarily and routinely go through third-party audits to certify their cage-free status. In addition, the farms are American Humane audited and certified. With more than 200 benchmarks for certification depending on the species of farm animal, the most basic criteria are that animals:
- Have clean and sufficient food and water
- Live in a humane environment under conditions and care that limit stress
- Are able to express normal behaviors
- Live in an appropriate and comfortable environment that includes sufficient space, proper facilities, shelter, a resting area, and company of their own kind.
- Have a healthy life, benefiting from disease and injury prevention and rapid diagnoses and treatment
Disclaimer: NestFresh Cage Free Eggs provided me with coupons for this review. As always, all opinions are my own and I was not otherwise compensated.
I remember the first time I ordered huevos rancheros at a restaurant. I was so disappointed. The ranchero sauce was bland and was more of a chunky salsa (which is NOT ranchero sauce) and didn't even have bell peppers. Plus the eggs were fried and the ranchero sauce was just sparingly ladled over the top. Boring.
I grew up on mom's huevos rancheros. And I thought they were the only way to make them. Her eggs where always so flavorful and her ranchero sauce was rich whether it was used for eggs or her chiles rellenos. What did mom do that was so different but to me seemed perfectly normal? She poached her eggs IN THE SAUCE. Yes, you read that correctly and this makes all the difference in the world. Besides being healthier since you aren't adding more oil to the dish, it makes the yolks rich and creamy while the whites absorb some of the yummy flavors of the ranchero sauce.
This is my interpretation of my mother's Huevos Rancheros recipe. It's basically her recipe with the addition of the poblano which I like as they provide just the slightest heat. If you want even more heat, add thinly sliced jalapeños instead of the poblano. If you caught my Chiles Rellenos post, then you already know how to make ranchero sauce. The sauce is super versatile and once mastered, can be modified for your tastes and used in so many other ways. Try ranchero sauce over skirt steaks or mix in shredded chicken for tacos. Dad will add cilantro to it and uses it to braise short ribs in. Delicious.
Try this recipe and let me know how you like it.
For the ranchero sauce:
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
¼ large brown onion, thinly sliced
½ small green bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
⅓ to ½ small poblano pepper, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 ½ teaspoons California Chile powder
8 ounce can Hunts tomato sauce (see note)
8 ounces water, plus more if needed
1 ½ teaspoons Knorr's Chicken Bouillon
4 NestFresh Cage Free Eggs, cold
½ cup cooked refried beans, warmed and ready to serve
4 corn tortillas
⅓ cup Queso Fresco, or to taste
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, or to taste
1 small roma tomato, seeded and chopped
1. Heat olive oil in a well seasoned cast iron skillet or a non-stick skillet until shimmering. Stir in onions and cook for 1 minute. Add bell pepper and poblanos and sauté until vegetables are tender. Stir in garlic and cook for 1 minute longer, stirring to keep garlic from burning.
3. Stir in the chile powder and cook for no more than 30 to 45 seconds, stirring constantly so as to not burn the chile powder.
4. Pour in the tomato sauce and bouillon; stir well to combine. Add water to the tomato sauce can, swirl to clean off the sides of the can then add to the pan. Bring sauce to a quick boil then turn heat to low to maintain a simmer.
5. For perfectly poached eggs, place a small sieve over a bowl and crack the cold egg into the sieve. The runny white portion of the egg will filter through the sieve leaving behind the thick white liquid and the yolk. Remove the egg to a mug or small bowl. Repeat with remaining eggs, each going into their own small mug or container.
6. Check on sauce. If too much water has evaporated or if it has thickened too much, add more water to thin out. It should be more soupy than gravy-like. Bring the fire up to maintain a good simmer to just barely bubbling (adding the eggs to boiling sauce -- or water for that matter -- will toughen the whites) and carefully place eggs in equal distance from each other along the outer edge of the pan. Turn heat to low and let the eggs hang out in the sauce, undisturbed, for one full minute. This allows for the white portion of the egg to settle away from the top of the yolks which will keep the yolks from developing the thin white film over it.
7. After a minute to a minute and a half, use a tablespoon to gently pour some ranchero sauce over the whites of the eggs until they set but are still jiggly. Just before they are entirely set, gently spoon the hot sauce over the yolks to set their tops. Total cooking time should stay in the three minute range for soft set whites and runny yolk to five minutes for firm whites and thick to set yolks.
8. Warm tortillas and divide among two plates.
9. Divide the beans between the four tortillas and spread to cover.
10. Carefully place an egg in the center of each tortilla and divide the sauce among the four tortillas, carefully ladling so as to not break the yolks.
11. Garnish with the cheese, cilantro and fresh tomatoes.
Note: I prefer Hunts brand because it's made from 100% tomato puree and has no added sugar.
TO ENTER GIVEAWAY
NestFresh is providing coupons for 4 dozen free eggs -- enough for a month of free eggs! Plus a prize pack that includes a water bottle, tumbler, recipe cards, spatula, pastry brush, jar opener and possibly some other kitchen accessories. Pretty cool, eh? I'm excited for my one lucky reader who gets to try out these yummy eggs.
Good luck everyone!
Until next time …