Straightforward and simple, potato hash is a no-nonsense American classic. This tantalizing fry-up of potatoes and onions with a whiff of bacon is even better with a sweet potato to balance the saltiness of the bacon (or pancetta). Their natural and earthy sugars caramelize to deepen and round out flavors. Topped with a gently fried egg this is the kind of dish that I like to make for myself when eating alone on a frosty night, especially when that egg is from a duck.
Duck eggs are a real treat, ramped-up versions of chicken eggs: bigger, richer tasting, with sunny gold yolks and clear, thick whites. You can find fresh local duck eggs at farmers markets, food co-ops, Whole Foods markets and select grocery stores.
Duck eggs are about 50 percent larger than jumbo chicken eggs, and they are very pretty. Depending on the breed of the duck, the eggs may be gray, light green, pale blue, brown or white. Their shells are a lot tougher than a chicken’s and, while this makes them more difficult to crack, the thicker shell provides a longer shelf life (up to five weeks when refrigerated).
Because the ratio of yolk to white is bigger in a duck egg, the flavor is distinctly eggy and the texture is creamy, but these eggs can be easy to overcook and turn rubbery. When boiled, the duck egg white develops a slightly blue hue and the yolk turns a lovely bright reddish-orange.
In most recipes (except baking), you can use a duck egg exactly the same way as you would a chicken egg. They fry, poach and boil nicely, and make lush, silky scrambled eggs. (It’s kind of like putting cream, instead of milk, in your coffee.) One egg per person is about right for any meal.
Duck eggs cost more than chicken eggs and are usually sold in half-dozen cartons. Because they yield so much more egg and more egg flavor, I find them worth the additional price. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has the exact same regulations for duck eggs as it does for chicken eggs (and quail eggs, too, for that matter).
Be gentle when cooking duck eggs. Use lower heat and allow a bit more time than you would for frying, scrambling, poaching and boiling chicken eggs.
Beth Dooley is the author of “In Winter’s Kitchen.” Find her at bethdooleyskitchen.com.