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A coddled egg is somewhat similar to a poached egg. The difference is that poached eggs are cracked into an egg poacher and lightly cooked in the boiling water. It can be cooked slowly in its shell, or it can be cracked and cooked in a glazed porcelain pot that is in a larger pot of boiling water. A coddled egg is cooked slowly and retains a soft yolk, and a tender white. Though coddled eggs aren't as popular in the United States as they were 100 years ago, they remain rather popular in Great Britain.
The coddled egg has been popular for many years, probably since man figured out that eggs were edible. These eggs are used in many recipes, some sweet, some savory. Coddled yolks may be used to make a sweet custard, but they are also used in a traditional Caesar salad dressing recipe.
Years ago, having beautifully painted egg coddlers was a point of pride in middle and upper class families. These little pots had flowers or other designs painted on and made a nice table presentation for company. This was extremely important in the Victorian era. The Royal Worcester Company still makes egg coddlers as they did in the 1800s. Some antiques enthusiasts also collect old egg coddlers, and they may be found online or in antique stores.
One method for making a coddled egg involves buttering the sides and bottom of an egg coddler and gently breaking an egg into it. The egg is then seasoned and the top is placed on the egg coddler, which is then lowered into the pot of boiling water for about 5-6 minutes, depending on the size of the egg and desired doneness. The egg coddler is lifted from the pot and placed on a saucer. The diner then slides the egg from the pot onto the saucer and eats it. All sorts of additions may be made to a coddled egg, including lemon juice, bacon bits, ham chunks, salmon flakes and other savory items. Recipes are available online.
Scrubbing the raw egg shells before breaking them is a good way to help prevent salmonella and using fresh eggs is also a good idea.