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Coddled eggs (soft-boiled)

March 11, 2006

Coddled Eggs

Coddled eggs are eggs that are so gently cooked that they remain tender. They may be coddled in the shell (as is done for the original Caesar Salad) or they may be cooked in the specially designed egg coddlers, as below.

Lay a folded dish towel on the bottom of a saucepan large enough to hold all the coddlers you are using. Add enough water to reach the rims of the egg coddlers, but do not add the coddlers until it comes to a boil.

Meanwhile, butter the coddlers well. If there is room, you may add a little sautéed mushroom or artichoke heart to the bottom of the coddler before you add the egg. Break in one egg per coddler and top with a little butter, a couple of teaspoons of cream, a little salt, a little pepper, and/or an herb of your choice – tarragon or thyme are the usual. Grated cheese or chopped bacon may also be added. You may omit everything but the egg, but the egg will not be special. Screw on the tops and set the filled coddlers onto the towel. Reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for six to eight minutes for a medium-set egg, where the white is fully set and the yolk is slightly runny. Remove the coddlers by the ring, and unscrew carefully by holding the hot lids (NOT THE RINGS) with a pot holder. If underdone, you may recover carefully and return to the pan for a minute or two more. Serve with buttered toast and bacon if desired.

Soft boiled eggs are easier to cook than eat, because we have so little practice eating out of the tiny cups they are served in.

Regardless of their name, these eggs are simmered, not boiled.

If you have the little gadget that is used to prick eggs, prick them at the top. Bring a pan of water to the boil. There should be enough room in the pan for space between the eggs. You may add a splash of vinegar to congeal any eggs that break through a shell. Either add all the eggs at once, by using a basket, or add one by one on a slotted spoon. The water should cover all the eggs by at least an inch. Bring the water back to a simmer, and cook four to five minutes for large eggs. Remove from the pan. Add to the egg cup, large end down. Rap a knife or a spoon sharply on the egg to crack off the top third of the eggshell, or use an egg cracker as in the photograph. Season as desired with salt, ground black pepper, herbs, etc. Proceed to eat the egg with a teaspoon or other small spoon. Easier said than done, but oh, so elegant when managed correctly.

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