Credit: Courtesy of Barley Swine

The United States faces an egg shortage right now; it’s getting so bad that some grocery stores have even turned to egg rationing. And while the most obvious victims will be your omelets and eggs Benedict, the drop in usable eggs is causing problems all across the food world because so many dishes use them as a binder—an ingredient that holds everything else together. That means hard times ahead for cookies, custards and any number of pastries.

At Barley Swine in Austin, headed up by 2011 Food & Wine Best New Chef Bryce Gilmore, they found a creative way around the egg problem: duck blood. Wait, don’t leave yet.

To many people, blood might sound like an ingredient that belongs in a Game of Thrones episode. But on every continent, for as long as human beings have cooked food, they’ve used blood. The red stuff plays a key part in plenty of classic dishes. Take coq au vin, for example: Traditional recipes call for blood to thicken the sauce.

In Austin, though, you can find blood lurking in sweeter items—meringue, ice cream and most recently brioche. Barley Swine replaced half the eggs in their brioche with duck blood, and so far, it’s been a hit. The restaurant told us, “It tastes very buttery, like typical brioche, but there is definitely a very earthy, savory quality as well.”

They were even nice enough to provide the recipe for anyone who wants to try their own egg-blood swap at home.

NOTE: If you don’t already frequent a blood purveyor, the chefs recommend heading to your local farmers' market and asking someone who sells ducks. They’ll likely be able to provide some.

Duck’s Blood Brioche

Makes 5 medium-sized loaves

  • 4 3/4 cups bread flour
  • 3/4 cup duck blood
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 5 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups soft unsalted butter

Mix the blood, eggs, yeast, milk and sugar until combined in the bowl of a stand mixer. Then mix in the flour with the dough hook. When the flour is entirely incorporated, mix on low speed for 10 minutes.

Add the salt.

Add the butter in batches (stop the mixer several times and fold the mixture into itself; force the butter in).

When the butter is fully incorporated, mix on medium speed for 8 minutes, then raise speed to medium-high and mix for 5 more minutes.

Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray and place the dough on it. Cover with plastic and let proof at room temperature for an hour. Punch it down and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, divide the dough into 5 portions and shape. Place the dough in loaf pans lubricated with butter. Cover with plastic and proof until doubled in size. Brush with eggwash (equal parts milk and egg).

Bake at 350° for 10 minutes. Rotate and bake for 10 more minutes.

Lower the temperature to 275° and bake for 15 more minutes.

Slice and enjoy with butter and flaky salt.