Kylie Magner’s Free Range Eggs

K

Kylie Magner grew up on a mixed farm in South East Australia where she developed her love of the land and animals. There were always chores to do through challenging times and good times.

At a recent Slow Food event here at the Cookery School, Kylie recounted the story of her arrival in Ireland where she immediately felt at home. She met her husband Billy at Coolmore Stud where she worked her way up to Media Director. The couple now have four children and live on Magners Farm in Moyglass near Fethard. Kylie wanted to pass on the love of the land and farming that she inherited from her parents in New South Wales to her children …..

Kylie racked her brains to find a way to earn a living on their small farm in Tipperary. Free range egg production seemed a good solution, after all eggs are a fantastically versatile and nourishing food, enjoyed by most people. Below is a selection of some simple and delicious recipes to whip up should you have a few eggs in your pantry.

For Kylie, chickens seemed relatively inexpensive to get started with, they would generate fast cash flow and have the environmental advantage of a lighter foot print on the land than cattle.

Magner’s hens are truly free range and are moved to fresh, green pasture every week, sometimes every day. Kylie believes that chickens should be allowed the freedom to act naturally.

When a hen is fed on a diet closer to their natural omnivorous state, the nutrition of the egg improves significantly. This results in a flavourful, nutrient dense product and the manure they produce enhances the fertility of the soil.

Eggs from hens raised on pasture can contain: 1⁄3 less cholesterol, 1⁄4 less saturated fat, 2⁄3 more vitamin A,  2 times more omega-3 fatty acids, 3 times more vitamin E, 7 times more beta carotene and 4-6 times more vitamin D.

This is because they consume a more natural diet including seeds, worms, insects & green plants plus a lot of sunshine.

The colour, flavour and texture of pasture raised eggs is distinctive. They contain Vitamins A, D, E, K2, B-12, folate, riboflavin, zinc, calcium, beta carotene, choline, and tons of omega 3 fatty acids, including DHA, EPA, ALA, and AA.

A pasture-raised egg is a true ‘superfood’. Second only to the lactalbumin, protein in human mother’s milk, eggs have the highest quality protein of any food.

A little over one year later, Magners Farm now have over 600 laying hens, but yet they can scarcely keep up with the demand for their eggs.

Last Winter they had a 96% laying rate so pasture reared hens are clearly happy…..

Magners Eggs sell at local Farmers’ Markets at €5.00 per dozen

Last Summer, they produced 250 free range chickens for the table, using the same high welfare principles.

Kylie has now started another project making chicken bone broth, available in glass jars €5.50 see www.magnersfarm.com

Plans for the future ……This is a sustainable model of farming, Kylie would love to see more pasture raised chickens around the country, generating income for farmers and improving the land at the same time. The country needs more people like Kylie, with a commitment to sustainability and to producing nourishing wholesome food.

 

Freshly Boiled Eggs and Soldiers

Mothers all over the country cut up fingers of toast for children to dip into soft-boiled eggs. In our family we call them ‘dippies’.

 

2 fresh free range organic eggs

salt and freshly ground pepper

a few pats of butter

1 slice of fresh best quality white loaf bread

Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil, gently slide in the eggs, bring the water back to the boil and simmer gently for 4-6 minutes, according to your taste. A four minute egg will be still quite soft, five minutes will almost set the white while the yolk will still be runny, 6 minutes will produce a boiled egg with a soft yolk and solid white.

 

Meanwhile toast the bread, cut off the crusts and spread with butter. Cut in fingers. Immediately when the eggs are cooked, pop them into egg cups, put the ‘dippies’ on the side and serve with a pepper mill, sea salt and a few pats of butter.

 

Boiled Eggs with Marmite

Spread the hot buttered toast with Marmite and cut, dip and enjoy.

 

 

Stir-fried Eggs with Garlic Chives and Shrimps

I’ve been to China several times recently, this is a favourite Cantonese family recipe.

If Chinese garlic chives are not available use common chives but less. I use the deliciously sweet pink shrimp from Ballycotton on the South coast of Ireland.

Wild garlic or ramps are of course wonderful to use while they are in season in spring.

 

Serves 2-4

40-50g Chinese chives (garlic chives – allium tuberosum)

4 organic eggs

1 tablespoon milk

110g cooked, little Ballycotton shrimps, peeled

salt and freshly ground pepper

1 large or 2 small cloves garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon peeled ginger, freshly grated

 

Garlic chive flowers

 

Accompaniment

Soy sauce

Slice the Chinese chives into 2cm lengths.

Whisk the eggs with the milk, season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a wok until almost smoking.

Add the shrimps, toss for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the garlic and ginger and continue to toss for a further minute or so. Add the garlic chives, toss once or twice and turn out onto a plate.

Add another tablespoon of oil to the wok, allow to heat again. Add the beaten egg and cook, stirring with a straight ended wooden spoon until the egg starts to scramble and form soft folds. Add the shrimp mixture, stir for a minute or two. Taste and correct the seasoning. Turn out onto a serving plate, scatter with a few fresh garlic chive flowers if in season and share while still warm.

Serve with soy sauce

 

 

Spaghetti Carbonara

Serves 4

4.5 litres (8 pints) water to 1-2 tablespoons salt

450g (1lb) spaghetti

 

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

200g (7oz) thick sliced smoked streaky bacon or pancetta, cut into strips 1 cm (1/2 inch) wide

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3-4 free range eggs, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons crème fraiche

1-2 tablespoons chopped parsley

90g (3 oz) freshly grated Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano)

1-2 tablespoons flat parsley, freshly chopped to serve

 

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the spaghetti until ‘al dente’.  Drain well.

Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over a medium heat.  Add the smokey bacon or pancetta and cook, stirring frequently for 5-6 minutes, until coloured and slightly crispy.  Add the black pepper and cook for another minute.  Add the spaghetti and toss with the smokey bacon or pancetta and oil until warmed through.

Combine the eggs, crème fraîche and parsley and add to the pan.  Remove from the heat and stir constantly for 1 minute to allow the heat from the oil and spaghetti to cook the eggs.  Stir in three-quarters of the freshly grated Parmesan.

Transfer the hot pasta to a large shallow bowl and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and freshly chopped parsley.

 

Spinach, Feta and Sweet Potato or Pumpkin Frittata

The basic frittata recipe here can be used as a basis for many herbs and vegetables in season, we love this autumn version.
We use blobs of Ardsallagh goat cheese in this recipe if we don’t have feta.

Serves 8

 

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

500g (18oz) sweet potato or pumpkin, peeled and cut into 1cm dice

 

10 large eggs, preferably free range organic

1 teaspoon flaky sea salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons marjoram, chopped

2 tablespoons curly parsley, chopped

2 teaspoons thyme leaves, chopped

150g (5oz) fresh spinach, shredded into 1cm (1/2 inch) dice (weight 380g (13 1/4oz) before de-stalking)

75g (3oz) Gruyére cheese, grated

25g (1oz) Parmesan cheese, finely grated

 

200g (7oz) feta or fresh goats’ cheese

25g (1oz) butter

 

To serve:

Rocket leaves

30g (1 1/4oz) toasted Italian pine kernels or cashew nuts

extra virgin olive oil

 

Non-stick pan – 22.5cm (8 1/2 inch) frying pan

 

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4

Put the sweet potato or pumpkin dice onto a small oven tray, drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Season with half teaspoon flaky sea salt (the feta cheese will be salty so don’t overdo the salt), and lots of freshly cracked pepper, stir and cook in the pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes or until cooked and tender. Remove from the oven.

 

Whisk the eggs in a bowl, add the salt, freshly ground pepper, fresh herbs, shredded spinach and grated cheese into the eggs.  Melt the butter in a non-stick frying pan. When the butter starts to foam, tip in the eggs.  Sprinkle the roast pumpkin evenly over the surface, dot with feta or goat cheese, press in gently.  Cook for 3-4 minutes over a low heat.

Transfer to the middle shelf of the pre-heated oven and cook for 25-30 minutes.  Flash under the grill for a couple of minutes if colour is needed.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

 

To Serve

Slide a palette knife under the frittata to free it from the pan. Slide onto a warm plate.

Arrange some rocket leaves on top of the frittata, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, and scatter with toasted pine kernels or coarsely chopped cashews, and a few flakes of sea salt.

 

Breakfast Quiche

Serves 6

 

1 x quantity Shortcrust Pastry (see recipe)

 

1 tablespoon olive oil

175g 6oz) streaky bacon cut into 1cm (1/2in) lardons

100g (4oz) chopped onions

3 eggs and 2 egg yolks

300ml (1/2 pint) double cream

1 scant tablespoon chopped parsley

1 scant tablespoon chopped chives

110g (4oz) Gruyère cheese, grated

salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

23cm (9 inch) diameter baking tin

 

Basic Shortcrust Pastry

 

6 ozs (175g) white flour, spelt or sieved wholemeal flour

3 ozs (75g) butter

pinch of salt

beaten egg or water (to bind)

 

Sieve the flour with the salt, cut the butter into cubes and rub into the flour with the fingertips. Keep everything as cool as possible; if the fat is allowed to melt, the finished pastry may be tough. When the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs, stop. Whisk the egg or egg yolk and add some water. Take a fork or knife, (whichever you feel most comfortable with) and add just enough liquid to bring the pastry together, then discard the fork and collect it into a ball with your hands, this way you can judge more accurately if you need a few more drops of liquid. Although rather damp pastry is easier to handle and roll out, the resulting crust can be tough and may well shrink out of shape as the water evaporates in the oven. The drier and more difficult -to-handle pastry will give a crispier shorter crust.

Cover the pastry with cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for a minimum of 15 minutes. This will make the pastry much less elastic and easier to roll.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.

Line the tart tin and ‘bake blind’ for about 25 minutes. The base should be almost fully cooked.  Remove the parchment paper and beans, brush the base with a little beaten egg white and replace in the oven for 3-4 minutes.  This will seal the base and avoid the “soggy bottom” effect.

Heat the oil in a sauté pan and cook the bacon over a medium heat until crisp. Remove to a plate and cool. Add the chopped onions to the pan and sweat gently on a low heat in the same oil for a further 10 minutes – covered.

Meanwhile, whisk the eggs in a medium-sized bowl, add the cream, herbs, cheese and cool bacon and onions. Mix well and add seasoning. Taste or otherwise, heat a frying pan, cook a teaspoon of the mixture on a gentle heat for 2 or 3 minutes until it coagulates – taste and if necessary correct the seasoning.

Pour the filling into the pastry base and return to the oven for 30–40 minutes or until the centre has just set. Serve warm with a green salad and relish.

 

Classic Omelette with Chanterelle Mushrooms

Serves 1

An omelette is the ultimate instant food but many a travesty is served in its name. The whole secret is to have the pan hot enough and to use clarified butter if at all possible. Ordinary butter will burn if your pan is as hot as it ought to be. The omelette should be made in half the time it takes to read this introduction, your first, may not be a joy to behold but persevere, practice makes perfect!

 

2 eggs, preferably free range and organic

1 dessertspoon water or milk

salt and freshly ground pepper

1 dessertspoon clarified butter or olive oil

 

omelette pan, preferably non stick, 9 inch (23cm) diameter

 

First make the mushroom a la crème below, the recipe makes plenty but will keep in your fridge for 4-5 days.

To make the omelette, warm a plate in the oven.  Heat the omelette pan over a high heat.  Meanwhile whisk the eggs with the water or milk in a bowl, until thoroughly mixed but not too fluffy. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Put the warm plate beside the cooker.

 

Add the clarified butter to the pan, as soon as it sizzles, pour in the egg mixture. It will start to cook immediately so quickly pull the edges of the omelette towards the centre with a metal or plastic slice, tilting the pan so that the uncooked egg runs to the sides. Continue until most of the egg is set and will not run any more, the omelette may need to cook for a further 5 seconds to brown the bottom.  The centre should still be soft and moist.  If you are using a filling, spoon the hot mixture in a line along the centre at this point.

 

Wild Mushroom a la Crème

(use Autumn Chanterelle this time of year)

Mushroom à la crème is a fantastic all-purpose recipe, and if you’ve got a surplus of wild mushrooms, use those instead of cultivated ones. You can even use dried mushrooms.

Serves 8

 

50g (2oz) butter

175g (6oz) onion, finely chopped

450g (1lb) wild mushrooms (chanterelles, morels, ceps, false chanterelles or the common field mushroom), sliced

salt and freshly ground pepper

good squeeze of lemon juice

225ml (8fl oz/1 cup) cream

freshly chopped parsley

1 tablespoon freshly chopped chives (optional)

 

Melt half the butter in a heavy saucepan until it foams. Add the chopped onion, cover and sweat over a gentle heat for 5–10 minutes or until quite soft but not coloured; remove the onions to a bowl.

 

Meanwhile cook the sliced mushrooms in a hot frying pan in the remaining butter, in batches if necessary. Season each batch with salt, freshly ground pepper and a tiny squeeze of lemon juice. Add the mushrooms to the onions in the saucepan, then add the cream and allow to bubble for a few minutes. Taste and correct the seasoning, and add the chopped herbs.

To fold the omelette: Add a generous spoonful of your mushroom a la crème. Flip the edge just below the handle of the pan into the centre, then hold the pan almost perpendicular over the plate so that the omelette will flip over again, then half roll half slide the omelette onto the plate so that it lands folded into three. (It should not take more than 30 seconds in all to make the omelette, perhaps 45 if you are adding a filling). Serve immediately.

About the author

Darina Allen
By Darina Allen

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