Ode to Egg coddlers
I have had a new obsession of late: Coddled eggs. FYI: egg coddling is method of cooking eggs which results in an egg with a somewhat runny yolk. One can easily achieve this result by throwing an egg (gently mind you) into a pot of boiling water and cooking it until it is soft boiled.
Or if you want to be old school yet high tech about it- you can use an egg coddler. An egg coddler is a porcelain pot with a metal screw top. To use an egg coddler you butter the sides of the pot and then break an egg- or eggs if you have a double or king size coddler, into it. You can add other seasonings if desired: salt, pepper, herbs, blue cheese. Hell yes!!! You then screw the top on and immerse it into a pot of boiling water until the egg is cooked to your liking. Usually takes about 10-13 minutes. The resulting consistancy is not unlike a poached egg, except you can eat it right out of the little jar with a spoon if that's how you roll.
I'm pretty sure the egg coddler was invented in England because it seems like the sort of think the English would invent. "What old chap, a porcelain container to hold eggs with runny yolks that whenceforth I can dippeth my toast soldiers in? Zounds, what a cracking idea" I think Royal Worcester may have cornered the market and perhaps even invented the damn things- but it appears that they no longer produce coddlers. I blame the microwave. In any case, I do remember my mum (that's British for Mom) had a couple of coddlers hanging around in the cupboard gathering dust. They had flowers on them and they were too much of a hassle to use and are probably in storage now which doesn't really help me when I want to cook eggs.
I purchased an E.C at the St. Lawrence Market in June. Although it was missing fancy designs and a fancy stamp on the bottom I felt that it would allow me to coddle eggs with the best of them and at $9.98 it was a bargain to boot. Now I say it was an egg coddler but I soon learned that if it is made in China and sells for $9.98, it is not an egg coddler- it is merely a useless replica of a kitchen item that will fall apart upon first use. And fall apart it did....the first thing I noticed is that the metal screw top was not functioning as it should. It had it's own mind and either wouldn't screw on properly, or you would place it on the top and it would immediately create an impenetrable seal that could only be unsealed with clever use of a sharp knife and an elastic band. Also, during the first use, the metal ring at the top fell off. Now this metal ring is not supposed to be used to turn the screw top (and I promise you that I did not attempt such a feat) it is purely a device to easily facilitate the lifting of the coddler out of the pot of boiling water- handy, non? Well it should be however this particular metal ring was barely soldered onto the top, for all I knew it was crazy glued, and it detached immediately when I picked the thing up. But I was not to be defeated, I perservered and continued using the porcelain imposter. I made due with tongs and oven mitts to retrieve the device from the pot- and the knife and elastic band to get the top off . Then one day the metal screw ring on the inside detatched- which did solve the first problem but also increased the likelihood of water pouring into the jar as the egg was cooking. The other downside is that the thing was nearly impossible to clean. Cleaning caked-on egg off dish is never a piece of actual cake, but I was having to soak the damn thing for several days before being able to get the damn thing washed properly.
So I gave up and tossed the thing.
Sans coddler, I kept thinking about the delicious eggs of days gone by. I couldn't go back to simple fried or hard boiled. I had tasted the perfectly cooked egg - on rye crispbread with mustard, tomato and caviar paste. I'd enjoyed them with oregano and feta on spelt crackers, and eaten them straight out of the coddler with a small spoon- soft boiled with salt, pepper and extra butter. I knew I'd have to shop around and I was highly doubtful that I would be able to find such a think at my neighbourhood egg coddler store since it had become a Starbucks. I was resigned to the fact that I would have to either raid the cupboards of some British seniors or find one at the source. The later seemed the best plan as I had plans to return to the jolly old source in August. I informed my sister (and resident of the source, Kent, UK) about my quest. She said I may be able to find one in England but unless we get lucky at some market or charity shop- I will probably have to shell out big bucks at someplace like Harrods. I was probably looking at the equivilant of about $45. Now don't get me wrong, I do like my eggs. But that seems a little excessive for a bit of china with a flower on it.
Then I heard a rumour... that coddlers were highly collectable but that from time to time such things could be had affordably from ebay. I investigated and lo and behold, there were pages of porcelain egg cooking devices and after careful consideration, I decided to go for something cheap and cheerful, with a common pattern as I had no desire to be cooking in a precious heirloom. The one I ended up bidding on and winning still had a cheery bird design, the original Royal Worcester box and a recipe booklet and with shipping only cost 18$ (0r $0.30 US) this was well within my means. I recieved the package on my birthday-a good omen. The packing was a little excessive. A box big enough to hold a human head or a cat, and filled to the brim with packing peanuts. It worked though- the precious cargo was in almost perfect condition- 1 little scratch on the jar's rim, but otherwise mint. I washed it, put it in the cupboard and went on with my life until a week ago when I decided to use the damn thing. And I have to say, those Brits know what they are doing. This coddler is far superior to that abomination I had before- not only have no pieces fallen off, but the eggs are fluffier and tastier, the cooking time is shorter, and it is actually very easy to clean. I am in egg heaven and now I am obsessed with all things coddler. I'll be keeping my eyes open for affordable coddlers when I am in the UK- and if you hear about a rash of very specific robberies targeting the kitchens of old age pensioners, please tell the police that I was with you for the whole time.
x-posted to my Lj