What Are Coddled Eggs?
Coddled eggs, by literal definition, are slightly cooked eggs used as an ingredient in a number of dishes, perhaps most famously, caesar salad. While eggs can be coddled in their shells, the methods featured on this page focus on using dedicated egg coddlers. These small porcelain dishes have been in use since Victorian times for coddling eggs and allow the egg-coddling process to be better managed in a number of ways.
Coddled eggs are normally cooked in water that is slightly below boiling point, and this, combined with the fact that the eggs are traditionally only partly cooked, haS raised health fears among many in recent times. For this reason, this article will look at how the egg coddling process can be extended a little bit further to produce what amount to soft-boiled, or lightly poached eggs, served with a variety of delicious accompaniments.
Why Should I Coddle My Eggs?
It may seem to many that if we are to effectively boil/poach the eggs, the coddling process is an unnecessary inconvenience. On the contrary, this method of cooking eggs still holds a number of advantages over the simple boiling/poaching process, including but not limited to:
- The egg can be effectively seasoned prior to cooking for maximum flavour.
- The coddler ensures a perfect presentation of the cooked egg, where poaching is prone to going drastically wrong at the worst possible time.
- Coddled eggs that are removed from the water and found to be slightly underdone can easily be further cooked, while boiled eggs can not.
- Serving coddled eggs in the egg coddler makes for an attractive and original presentation.
How to Coddle an Egg: The Basics
- The coddlers to be used should be spotlessly clean and dry inside.
- As the water will be required to come around two-thirds of the way up the side of the coddlers during cooking, a good way to measure this is to place all the coddlers being used into a pot and fill it with cold water to the required level.
- Remove the coddlers and put the pot on to the heat for the water to reach a boil while the eggs are being prepared.
- The coddlers should still be lightly greased on the inside with butter, even though they are going to be served in a dish that won't require them to be removed.
- Oil can be used, but butter is infinitely preferable. Simply take a small amount of butter in each instance and use the first two fingers of one hand to smear it lightly and evenly around the inside of the egg coddler, not forgetting the inside of the lid.
Step 1: Break the Egg in a Small Bowl
There may be a temptation to simply break the egg directly into the egg coddler. This is not advisable for several reasons.
- Breaking the egg firstly into a small cup or bowl allows easy removal of any errant pieces of shell which may land in the bowl. This is not so easy from the egg coddler and may force you to pour the egg out again to take this action.
- The egg can be seasoned in the bowl with salt and pepper (perhaps some dried herbs?), and the act of transferring the egg to the coddler alone will combine the seasoning with the egg for full flavour. Seasoning the egg in the coddler can also leave an unattractive pepper crust on top of the cooked egg.
- It is considerably easier to pour the egg into the coddler from a small cup or bowl than to break it directly from the shell.
Step 2: Put the Egg in the Coddler
- Pour the egg into the egg coddler, careful not to spill any and particularly not to break the yolk.
- Screw the lid onto the coddler but do not overdo it. The lid should be screwed on only until reasonable resistance is felt; if it is too tight, the vacuum that is formed will be akin to canning, and it will be extremely difficult to later remove.
- Place each coddler very carefully into the boiling water by holding it by the ring on top of the lid and note the time or start your egg timer.
- It is at this stage the procedures now vary from the traditional. If coddling an egg to simply partially cook it, the heat would be reduced to achieve barely a simmer and the eggs cooked for five or six minutes.
- To cook them equivalent to boiled/poached eggs, the boil should be maintained for seven to nine minutes, depending upon preference.
Note: It is important also to note that the eggs featured on this page were coddled from room temperature, and eggs taken straight from the refrigerator will require a minute or two longer.
Step 3: Removing the Egg Coddlers From the Boiling Water
It should go without saying that although children may wish to help in many of the fun parts of egg coddling and preparing the accompaniments, this bit is very much for adults only.
- Switch the heat off under the pot, which should immediately stop the rolling boil.
- Wrap your hand well with a towel or don an oven-protecting glove.
- Carefully lift the egg coddlers from the water, one at a time, by the ring on top of the lid, ensuring you have a firm grip in each instance.
- Sit the egg coddler on a hard, steady, heat-resistant surface.
- Wrap the towel over and around the egg coddler. Use one hand to steady the coddler and the other to unscrew the lid. Unscrew the lid properly and not by holding the ring.
Coddled Eggs and Toasted Bread Recipe Ideas
If you wish to coddle an egg and serve it extremely simply, with toasted soldiers and nothing more, it is perfectly possible to do so and every bit as delicious as the conventional boiled egg and soldiers. Why not, however, go a little beyond the obvious to celebrate your new egg-coddling skills? How would your kids enjoy mini pizzas with their morning egg instead of soldiers...?
The idea of having cheese for breakfast will be off-putting to many people, but in some countries, such as Austria or the Czech Republic, different cheeses form a huge part of a hearty breakfast. This suggestion incorporates mozzarella cheese roasted over French-style bread slices and scattered with fresh cress, as is often served with eggs.
Cut slices of around three-quarters an inch thick from a French-style loaf. Cutting at a forty-five-degree angle gives bigger slices to work with and makes the process easier. Toast the bread under an overhead grill on one side only.
Take a piece of mozzarella cheese designed for use on pizzas (note that the soft balls of mozzarella sold in brine are not suitable) and cut some quarter-inch thick slices. When one side of the bread is toasted, turn the slices over and place the mozzarella on top. Put back under the grill to melt the cheese.
Scatter the cress over the mozzarella slices and serve with a freshly coddled egg.
Instead of mozzarella cheese, you may wish to use grated/shredded hard cheese such as cheddar. In this instance, try mixing it with some finely chopped onion and dried sage prior to placing it on the bread.
Coddled Egg Lunch Recipe Ideas
Coddled eggs are not just for breakfast and can easily be made to form a part of a tasty, light lunch or snack.
Eggs go particularly well with asparagus, and these asparagus spears are perfect for dipping into a freshly coddled egg, just as toasted soldiers would be in a boiled egg. The asparagus spears were trimmed and steamed for eight minutes as the coddled egg was cooking, and freshly ground black pepper makse the perfect seasoning. Fresh bread to accompany this dish makes the perfect snack or extremely light lunch, where perhaps a large dinner is to be eaten later.
Coddled eggs go extremely well with smoked salmon. This incredibly simple salad is merely a few slices of oak-smoked Scottish salmon on some fresh rocket leaves and serving this dish with a fork and teaspoon allows the different tastes to be enjoyed in perfect combination. If you have access to them, Scottish oatcakes would be excellent with this dish, but bread is again a perfect accompaniment.
Coddled eggs may be a concept with which a great many people were previously unfamiliar, but hopefully, it can now be seen that they afford a great many possibilities for adding some additional variety to any family menu. By simply considering how boiled or poached eggs would normally be served, it should be possible to come up with a wide range of tasty ideas for getting the most out of your new egg coddlers at virtually any time of day.
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