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April 20, 2009
Today was a writing day and the writing to be done was recipes and their headnotes, cookbookery jargon for the narrative describing a dish before you get to the ingredients and directions. First up was coddled eggs and, even though I finished writing about them by mid-morning, the thought of them stayed in my head for the rest of the day, until finally I realized that I'd never be able to get my work done if I didn't rustle up an egg or two -- pronto. But really, coddled eggs can only be made one way -- pronto.
If you've never coddled an egg, I urge you to go into the kitchen, make one and check it off your life list.
At its most basic, a coddle egg is one that's baked or steamed until its white is opaque and set and its yolk still a little - or a lot -- runny. To coddle an egg you need a very fresh egg and a small heatproof ramekin, ideally one with a capacity of 4 to 6 ounces. Butter the ramekin and slip in the egg, making sure to keep the yolk intact. If you'd like, you can drizzle the white with a little heavy cream and/or you can dust the top with some finely grated cheese. Neither the cream nor the cheese is necessary, but so nice. Season the egg lightly with salt and pepper and you're ready to go.
The simplest way to cook the egg is to steam it, either put the ramekin on the base of your pasta pot, settle a rack in a skillet with a cover or put a double thickness of paper towels in the bottom of a skillet, pour in a little water and put the ramekin on the towels, which will keep it from rattling around. You don't need to cover the ramekin, but you do need to cover the pot.
Depending on the size of your egg, its temperature, the number of ramekins you're using and the amount of steam you've got going, the egg will cook in 5 to 6 minutes. Take a look at it: the white should be set and the yolk still jiggly. If you're not fond of runny, jiggly yolks, just give the egg another minute. But keep an eye on it -- if you let it go too far, the egg will set completely and you'll lose the elegance of the dish.
Plain coddled eggs are good served with long fingers of buttered toast -- this is one of the few dishes in which dunking is allowed -- and even better if you put a little smoked salmon or a thin, thin piece of ham on the bread.
But coddled eggs don't have to stay plain: you can plant little surprises in the bottom of the ramekins. Think about adding little bits -- and you've really only got room for little bits -- of cooked vegetables: spinach or chard, sliced mushrooms, peas, peppers (pieces of piquillo peppers are good here), onions or even mashed potatoes or a spoonful of celeryroot puree. And consider putting something on top of the eggs: cheese and cream, for sure, a drizzle of pesto, a dab of tapenade or a shower of finely minced herbs.
If you want to serve the eggs as a dinner-party starter -- they're lovely enough for the role -- you can prepare them a few hours ahead of time and keep them covered in the refrigerator. Take them out about 20 minutes before you're ready to coddle them.
I've mentioned only the merest fraction of the number of things you can do to flavor the eggs -- what about smoked salmon or caviar, truffles or minced chives, tomato sauce or ... The list can go on and on. If you've got favorite add-ins, pipe up, please.
Tags: coddled eggs
In the Kitchen
Soups & Starters
| April 20, 2009 11:31 PM
Dorie have I told you that we now have 6 chickens at our house? During the day they roam around the garden and at night I herd them back into their coop. Fresh eggs are wonderful and I will be coddling an egg for breakfast tomorrow!
| April 20, 2009 11:36 PM
Ok, obviously I'm pretty suggestible. I just had to get up and coddle an egg. At 11 p.m. Pretty darned yummy for a bedtime snack, though. Next time I need toast fingers.
| April 21, 2009 4:24 AM
I adore soft-boiled eggs, so will have to give this a go. Here in Oz, Vegemite soldiers (buttered toast with Vegemite, sliced into fingers), are the obligatory yolk dipper. Do you think coddled ducks eggs would be as good? I've been buying them at the local markets for baking and they're very rich and delicious.
As always, thanks for the inspiration!
T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types
| April 21, 2009 5:23 AM
Don't you love the language of food, Dorie? Just the sound of the words "coddled eggs" induces comfort and security!
| April 21, 2009 7:40 AM
I haven't coddled an egg before but I shall try now. I like eating coddled eggs with smoked salmon bits cooked into the egg part....but your lovely entry did not provide instructions on baking them?
Mm, now these are on my mind. Hope you're doing great.
| April 21, 2009 8:07 AM
I have never "coddled eggs" before, only husbands and children. Three of them (children). Probably a mistake. Its an interesting world out there. I do understand the list mechanism in the brain though and love the "dressing up" description.... a dab, a drizzle, and a shower. Looking forward to learning how to coddle eggs among other kitchen tricks in your new book. Thanks Dorie!
Eileen @ Passions to Pastry
| April 21, 2009 9:16 AM
My mouth is watering. The only thing I'd need to add is toasted sourdough bread with lots of salted butter.
| April 21, 2009 9:35 AM
Oh, they are so good on a frisee salad that's got shards of parmesan on it. The egg wilts the greens slightly and gives it richness. One of my favorite lunches.
| April 21, 2009 9:39 AM
This is yet another reason why I must get ramekins! I love eggs but I've never had them coddled.
Laura [What I Like]
| April 21, 2009 10:04 AM
I am such a massive fan of poached eggs, and of soft boiled eggs (another dunking-approved dish) that I simply must give this one a try. I've made baked eggs with a bit of butter, cream and parmesan mixed with garlic and thyme but I have to admit that the steaming does sound more elegant. Just out of curiosity, is this the same thing as a shirred egg?
| April 21, 2009 10:07 AM
Oh yum! I absolutely adore baked eggs with green onions and bits of bacon with Parmesan cheese. Coddled eggs sound like the perfect breakfast or snack for me! Lovely!
| April 21, 2009 10:14 AM
It's so funny, as I was writing this post I was thinking about the word "coddled" and how sweet it is that it's used as a culinary term. I love AmyRuth's comment on the word.
And T.W. Barritt you're so right -- "coddled eggs" sounds like comfort and security.
Jean, instructions for coddling the eggs are in the post, just a little buried -- steam them for 5 to 6 minutes.
Thanks for the nice ideas for add-ins. Goat cheese -- yum.
As far as I can figure it, Laura, shirred eggs, coddled eggs and oeufs a cocotte are the same, or at least identical twins. The method of cooking varies, but the idea is the same: an egg in a little container (out of its shell), cooked until the whites are set and the yolks only barely set (or not).
| April 21, 2009 6:41 PM
Had two coddled eggs for breakfast this morning - couldn't find ramekins, so they were steamed in two bone china teacups instead. One plain and one topped with crumbled Stilton. The Stilton one was accompanied by sourdough and smoked salmon dippers, and the plain one by Vegemite soldiers. I'm feeling very grown up and sophisticated today (normally breakfast is a slice of toast and jam). What am I eating tomorrow, Dorie? :)
| April 21, 2009 7:35 PM
I like mine with melted leeks on the bottom and parmesan on top! Yum!
| April 21, 2009 8:53 PM
What a lovely surprise for a first course...I'd probably add creme fraiche and caviar.
| April 21, 2009 9:39 PM
It's funny I was just reading about coddled eggs in Chocolate and Zucchini and now your post. I like the idea of adding the prize at the bottom. Maybe tomorrow's breakfast. Thanks for your comments on my blog. Not settled yet.
| April 21, 2009 10:38 PM
I don't think I've ever had a coddled egg before, but now they are officially on my life list. My mother used to make us soft boiled eggs when we were kids, so I am already partial to eggs with slightly runny yolks that are approved for dunking! This preparation sounds elegant yet comforting, and the possibilities for dressing them up seem endless!
| April 23, 2009 10:36 PM
How about coddled eggs Southern Style? You had me with the beautiful photography and I kept coming back thinking 'when could I do that?' ... What morning would I have time to indulge...then this evening I thought, why wait until morning?! While the toast fingers sound wonderful and I always have one of the ABin5 boules on hand...something about that soft yolk was just begging this southerner for grits! I buttered two ramekins, added two lovely brown eggs, given to me by friends just yesterday, straight off the hens nest! Placed the ramekins inside a clay baking dish that I use to bake bread in, covered it with the bowl type clay cover of the dish and proceeded to bake. When I took the lid off there was still a bit of soft white so I turned the fan on in the oven for speed bake and let the hot air swirl around just a minute. Perfection! As it turned out, with the grits, one egg was enough so I will indeed enjoy one for breakfastâ€¦tomorrow morningâ€¦without any effort!
Thanks Dorie! I found you thru the blog pathway after finding Tuesdayâ€™s with Dorie first... I bought your book right away and have been enjoying â€œbaking and releasingâ€ with joy, ever since! Not only are you an incredible baker, your sharing spirit is a blessing to behold!
| April 24, 2009 4:48 PM
That looks pretty tasty and I definitely have some ramekins that I hardly ever use. I might have to make this as a light dinner for myself tonight!
| April 26, 2009 8:59 PM
It was breakfast today. I had obsessed about it since the day I read it and finally, FINALLY today it could happen.
Sauteed spinach on the bottom, truffle cheese on the top....heaven in the end. Thank you.
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