I said goodbye to my little flock of chickens this week. It was a good urban chicken run, but I decided it might be time for the children to get a dog, and the combo seems dicey. In honor of my girls, I’m sharing a favorite recipe that celebrates both Alaska’s sweet beets and the wide variety of eggs you can find in town, if you know where to look. I’m a huge fan of quail eggs, which you can get for between $2 and $3 a dozen at a number of Asian markets, including very regularly at New Sagaya Midtown Market and New Central Market. Kids love them. Duck eggs are a little trickier, but can sometimes be had at farmers markets and, occasionally, at both Sagaya markets.
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This is a great recipe for using the last of the beets in your root cellar, if you still have some. I like to boil the eggs until they are just cooked in the middle, giving the yolks a jammy texture. If you’d like a harder egg, you can boil for a few minutes more. With the beets, I simmer long enough to cook them but leave them little toothsome, which makes for a good pickled texture. You can use them on an appetizer tray, slice them on buttered crackers or make a sandwich with some greens, steamed cold asparagus and mayonnaise on nice bread.
Quick Alaska beet-pickled eggs
8 chicken eggs or 6 assorted chicken and/or duck eggs plus a dozen quail eggs
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup water
1 1/4 pounds beets, peeled and sliced about 1/4 inch thick
3/4 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon allspice
2 teaspoons salt
Instructions: Place the beets, water, sugar, vinegar, spices and salt in a pan over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring to make sure the sugar is dissolved. Turn heat down to a simmer and cook beets in the liquid for 8 to 10 minutes, until they give easily when pierced with a fork. Remove the beet mixture from the heat and allow to cool. Meanwhile, place eggs in a pan of cold water and set over the heat. When the pan begins to boil, turn the heat to medium and set the timer for 7 minutes. When the timer rings, place pan in the sink and run cold water into it for a few minutes to cool the eggs. Once you can handle them, peel them carefully. When the beet mixture is cool, use a slotted spoon to scoop the beets into a large glass jar or bowl (do not use metal or plastic), layering them in with the boiled eggs. After that, pour the beet liquid over the beets and eggs to cover. (If for some reason you need a little more liquid, add equal parts water and vinegar.) Cover and chill for at least four hours before serving.