A coddled egg is an egg gently cooked whole in a small dish in a hot water bath. When this culinary technique is done properly the yolk should be slightly runny while remaining unbroken. In this respect, it's similar to a poached egg. The difference between a coddled egg and a poached egg is that a poached egg is made by cooking the egg directly in the cooking liquid, whereas a coddled egg is cooked in a small dish (usually a small ramekin) instead.
Coddled Eggs Are Cooked Gently to Semi-Soft
You can cook one or two eggs in the same dish, depending on the size of the dish. The dish is greased with butter to prevent the egg from sticking. The egg is cracked into the dish, which is then partially immersed in a hot water bath (called a bain-marie) for several minutes.
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 six to 10 minutes, depending on temperature.
Coddled Eggs in the Oven
The most common way of preparing coddled eggs is in the oven. The indirect heat produced in the oven is best for the gentle cooking a coddled egg needs. The steam produced by the water bath helps cook the surface of the egg. Note that coddled eggs are similar to baked eggs, with the difference being that baked eggs are cooked in a dish in the oven with no water bath.
Coddled Eggs on the Stovetop
You can also cook coddled eggs on the stovetop. The best way to do this would be to place a roasting pan filled with hot water across two burners. Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat until the bubbles barely subside. Then place the ramekins in the pan (the water should come halfway up the side of the ramekins), cover the pan with foil and cook until the eggs are set.
Coddled Eggs vs. Molded Eggs
Coddled eggs are related to molded eggs, which are also cooked in a 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.
Variations and Uses of Coddled Eggs
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.