If you're like many people, when you hear the word "coddling" you might think of something to do with millennials in the workplace. But there's a culinary meaning as well.
In the culinary arts, a coddled egg refers to an egg cooked by cracking it into a small dish which is then partially immersed in a hot water bath (or bain-marie) for several minutes.
A coddled egg is similar to a poached egg in that both involve gentle cooking, and the yolk should be slightly runny while remaining unbroken.
Rather than cracking the egg into the cooking liquid directly, it's cracked into the dish (usually a small ramekin) instead. You can cook one or two eggs in the same dish, depending on the size of the dish.
Coddled eggs can be prepared in the oven or on the stovetop. They're similar to baked eggs, which are baked in a ramekin without a water bath. The steam produced by the water bath helps cook the surface of the egg.
Coddled eggs are related to molded eggs, which are also cooked in bain-marie, but in decoratively shaped dishes, and then turned out of the dish and served on a piece of toast. Whereas coddled eggs are served in the ramekin. Another difference between coddled and molded eggs is that while coddled eggs are cracked whole into the ramekin, molded eggs can be beaten first and mixed with other ingredients before cooking.
In both cases, it's important to rub the inside of the dish with butter or oil (particularly in the case of molded eggs) to prevent sticking.
The degree of doneness achieved depends on how long the egg is cooked. But as the word "coddle" suggests, it is a gentle cooking method, resulting in a soft texture, with a yolk still at least partially runny (although the white should not be liquid). This can take anywhere from 6 to 10 minutes, depending on temperature.
When preparing coddled eggs, other ingredients can be included in the ramekin as well, such as chopped ham or bacon, onions, peas, cheese, herbs and so on. Additionally, the ramekin can be rubbed with olive oil rather than butter. Coddled eggs are sometimes referred to as eggs en cocotte.
Also see: How to Poach an Egg