This is just pure decadence. Fresh basil fettuccine, creamy ricotta, crispy fried spring onions and a fried duck egg on top. The egg yolk creates a rich sauce for the noodles.. The only thing that would have made it more over-the-top is if I had some black truffle to shave on it.
This dish came about serendipitously. I was visiting a customer in downtown Seattle on Thursday, and finished with just enough time to run into DeLaurenti's at Pike Place Market. There are gastronomical gravitational wells throughout the city that are prone to capture me whenever I wander too close. DeLaurenti's has an intense field that will lure me in from a mile away – especially if I've already found parking!
Whenever I go there, I always come away with fresh ricotta, and a pound of fresh pasta, which they cut to order from large sheets. The noodles have that wonderful elasticity you don't find in the dried, eggless varieties. This week they happened to have a basil flavored option, which was quite tasty. (Don't even get me started about the oak-smoked cheddar I also scored there.)
Then on Friday, our neighborhood farmer's market just reopened, and we made our first pilgrimage of the year. Nearly every stall had big bunches of spring onions, which are simply immature bulbs of any variety of onion. They look like enormous scallions. These particular ones were Vidalias, which are sweet and mild.
And then there was the duck egg. I've been toying with the idea of buying these for years, but never got up the gumption. It is kind of a funny thing, I'm resolutely lacto-ovo vegetarian, and there is no reason a duck egg shouldn't be just as good for me to eat a chicken egg. Still, the idea made me a bit uneasy. Just fear of the unknown I guess. Seeing them at the market, and chatting directly with the farmer who could look me in the eye and tell me that the duck's were happy and wandering about the yard made me feel willing to go for it.
The duck eggs look huge, and weigh about 50% more than a chicken egg. The water content is different so they behave a little differently when scrambled. The whites look a little clearer when raw, but about the same cooked.I didn't detect any really noticeable difference in flavor or richness. My daughter thought that it was hilarious that she could "quack" them. Overall verdict: kind of a non-event. I guess cooking a custard in the shell would be pretty impressive, but otherwise I don't see a whole lot of reason I'd go out of my way to get them again. Anyone want to offer a perspective on what I'm missing?
This dish is totally ingredient driven which is my favorite way to cook. If I ever own a restaurant, I'd like the menu to be mainly daily specials for exactly this reason, so that I can make the most of the best ingredients I can find.
Fresh Fettuccine with Ricotta, Spring Onions and Duck Egg
Vegetarian; not vegan nor gluten-free
Serves 4 as a main course
- 1 pound fresh pasta (basil if you can find it, plain is just fine too)
- 1 bunch spring onions (about 4), trimmed, halved lengthwise, cut into 1/4" thick half moons
- 1 pound fresh ricotta (Calabro is a fine brand) – remove from refrigerator when you start cooking
- 4 duck eggs (or chicken eggs)
- Optional: shaved black truffle, or truffle oil, or truffle salt
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- Saute the onions in 2 tablespoons of butter with 1/4 teaspoon of salt over medium heat until the moisture evaporates and they begin to get brown and crispy, about 15 minutes.
- Fry the duck eggs in butter, just like you would a chicken egg. Cover the pan so that some heat reaches the yolk as well. Ideally you get some lacy crispy bits on the edge of the whites. Cook until the white is completely set. (Note well: I like this with a still runny yolk. That is considered risky by food safety experts. You willl have to use your own judgement.)
- Boil the pasta until al dente. Drain and toss with butter to coat.
- Divide the pasta among four pre-heated bowls. Top with the ricotta, onions, and the duck egg. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. And that truffle, if using.