How to Devil an Emu Egg: The Whole Complicated Story
The goal was clearly stated: I wanted to make the biggest deviled eggs ever. And tura was willing to help, which was a good thing. Unfortunately, ostrich eggs are a little hard to find these days. Luckily for me, though, the second-largest bird eggs are raised in ranches all over. In fact, there's an emu ranch a short drive south from my work.
Here's what it looked like while I drove. It was actually not that short a drive. In fact, this whole thing was really involved, so welcome to the extended version!
This is how long the round trip was. Some people called me mad for making a 90+ mile round trip to purchase emu eggs. Mad!
This was the emu ranch, which was run by two very nice people. They gave me helpful tips on how long to boil the eggs, although they too seemed to think I was crazy.
Hello, emu! I choose to believe that this was the emu that laid my eggs. I could well be wrong, especially since I can't even tell the difference between male and female emus, but on the other hand, there's at least a chance I'm right.
I posted this already, but this is a raw emu egg. Note the interesting green color. Exotic!
Okay, this is the boiling process. I took the picture with a flash so the steam would show up, and I think it looks pretty cool.
Actually, it takes two pots to properly boil an emu egg. See, it's a very large egg, so it needs to be boiled for about an hour and a half, and that boils away a lot of the water. So the real experts (it may be premature to declare myself an expert, but on the other hand, how many emu eggs have you boiled recently?) have a second pot standing by. The second pot is kept just below a boil, and its water is added to the big pot occasionally to keep the water level above the egg.
After boiling, the egg is much darker, although still green if you look closely.
This is the first egg we did, designated Test Egg Alpha. My goal was to treat it exactly like a chicken egg I wanted to devil. So the first step was to remove the shell, which required a certain amount of effort, by which I mean "a hammer". We cracked the shell all over and rolled it around to loosen the membrane.
The shelling process, as you can see, went pretty smoothly. The egg slid right out of the shell with no problems.
So here we have an emu egg with no shell. Looks pretty much like a regular egg, does it not? The next step in deviling is to cut the egg in half:
Ah! Here we see the problem. First of all, the yolk-to-white ratio is way too high. Second, the whites aren't quite as stiff as they could be (this egg was only boiled for an hour and fifteen minutes), so they ripped immediately. There's no way we're going to be able to remove the yolk, mix it up with the deviled egg ingredients, and then use the whites as little dishes the way deviled eggs normally work.
However! We did some brainstorming and decided the right plan was to leave the shells on. That way the whites will be held up, the neat green shells are on display, and it still looks (roughly) like a deviled egg from above. So, let's move on from Test Egg Alpha to the main event:
That's right, we used a hacksaw. When you've gone this far, to turn back would be truly mad. This is no project for the weak of heart! So Rhias went around the egg, cutting just through the shell.
This cut just gets through the shell, so when she was done, we had an egg that barely held together. The next step was mine:
I took a small, cheap (thin!) steak knife and worked it through the cuts, cunningly slicing through the egg itself. It was a little bit tricky (since the cut-line wasn't perfectly parallel; it turns out to be difficult to use a hacksaw on a wet emu egg with precision), but I got it done, and soon we were rewarded with this:
Yes! Looks good to me. The next step, obviously, was to remove the yolks (went without difficulty, although the membrane between the white and yolk is a lot thicker and more noticeable than with chicken eggs) and make the deviled egg mixture. With Test Egg Alpha, I just tripled the regular recipe, since six chicken yolks are about 3 ounces, and the emu yolk was 9.5 ounces. But the result was way too strong and vinegary. This was probably because the flavor of the emu egg is much more subtle than the chicken's, so it wasn't able to compete with the other ingredients. Also, when dealing with a much bigger recipe like this, I don't think you can just multiply by three. The emu yolk seemed heavier and denser, so it would have been wiser to go by volume instead of weight.
Anyway, for the second egg, I just doubled everything (except the mayonnaise, where I added a bit extra on the theory that homemade mayonnaise is always a good idea). It came out okay. Maybe a little less deviled than I prefer.
And here's the result! Fancy!
I also deviled up the usual number of chicken eggs for contrast. The real problem came when we thought about eating the emu eggs. They're enormous! How is someone supposed to eat that? In the end, we decided it was more of a dip than its own food, so we put crackers next to it. That went okay, but I'm sure there's a better solution.
So there you go!