First things first…my last post (Yeah you Jerky) ended optimistically with the fact that I was going elk hunting with the intentions of returning with a trophy. Well, I hate to disappoint however, we came back empty handed. I can assure you that it was not a lack of effort as we arose each morning at 4am in position to hunt by 5am and traipsing through the woods till 11am to noon. A brief “lunch” break and back in the woods by 2pm for the evening hunt which lasted till dark. We hit it hard three days in a row only to see two bull (male) elks, who clearly knew we possessed no such tag to legally bag (cow-female elk only tags), and a couple coyotes. Other than that we were basically camping with guns. Despite this it was a great time and certainly look forward to next years hunt assuming we get drawn for tags again.
Glad to get that out of the way. So I was sitting around thinking about what I should post next and realized that I have yet to do any actual pickling (myself excluded of course) and settled upon the quintessential Midwest dive bar breakfast of champions, The Pickled Egg! I have found through my travels that the pickled egg too has its geographic and or socioeconomic boundaries much like drinking Pepsi or Coke, playing euchre or sporting spandex biker shorts (not surprisingly Wal-Mart has its own micro-regions). Growing up as a child my grandmother owned her own bar (cutting a rug at a place) called The Jug on Route 4 in Ohio. This classic dive bar had upon its hallowed mantle a large jar of purple pickled eggs on one side and a large jar of pickled sausage on the other. I know what you are thinking, what else do you need, right?! I vividly remember eating pickled eggs and sausage while listening to The Devil went down to Georgia by The Charlie Daniels Band thinking life could get much better.
It with great pride I introduce to you, the pickled quail egg. Initially I thought this was going to be a Pickled Pig original idea however, was quickly disappointed to find multiple recipes on Google for exactly that (even one by Emeril!). Oh well, it is a great idea that combines the perfect beer accoutrement with an M&M sized bite (won’t melt in your hands either). In fact I have already decided that I will most certainly need to have a jar of these on hand to garnish a vodka martini or bloody Mary from here on out…I’m clearly a total health nut.
I used a recipe that I have successfully used with chicken eggs that tasted just like the picked eggs of my past. The recipe called for; 1 15-ounce can of beets (just the juice), 1 cup cider vinegar, ½ cup sugar, 2 teaspoons salt, 2 bay leaves and 4 whole cloves. This recipe made enough brine for 6 large eggs however; I used 30 quail eggs which worked perfectly. I was able to purchase three 10-packs of quail eggs at our local Asian grocery store for $1.59 a pack.
The first thing to do is begin the process of hard boiling the quail eggs. Many people don’t know that there is a right way and a wrong way to boil an egg. The manner in which you boil and length of time boiling both affect the texture of the prized yolk as well as the yolk’s color. When boiled too long I find the yolks to be chalky and take on an unpleasant green color as compared to the much desired bright golden yellow. To properly boil any egg you must first start them in the pot with COLD water. You then bring them and the water to a boil. It is at this point you must determine how you want your yolk. If you want a medium cooked egg you leave them in the water for a total of 4 minutes (begin timing once it achieves a rapid boil) and remove to an ice bath to stop the cooking and cool the egg for peeling. In this instance I wanted a hard cooked egg and left them in for a total of 7 minutes before transferring to an ice bath.
While the eggs are boiling I add the beet juice, vinegar, sugar, salt, bay leaves and cloves to a sauce pot and bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar and salt. Once dissolved, I remove the brine from the heat and allow the cloves and bay leaves to steep.
Next I begin to tackle the art of peeling quail eggs…much easier said than done! I finally settled on a technique where I cracked the egg on the bottom where the air bubble was. This space between the shell and egg was perfect to peel off and begin the process of peeling the shell downward while spinning it around in my fingers. After peeling all 30 eggs I added them to the pickling jar.
I then added my purple brine to the pickling jar and let them mingle in the fridge for about 7 days. After the 7 days I tried my first egg and it was the perfect bite sized snack. The picture below is after about 2 weeks of pickling. The difference is evidenced in the purple color that the once yellow yolk has taken on.
This is just one of many recipes that I found to be popularized throughout Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania. A few other that I suggest you consider are the famous Bruce’s B&B pickled eggs as detailed on Michigan Tech’s alumni page (even I being from Ohio have to admit this is pretty cool) as well as some recipes from Washington State University which after reading appear to be borrowed from University of Wisconsin which makes alot more sense. Enjoy!