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In cooking, coddled eggs are gently or lightly cooked eggs. They can be partially cooked, mostly cooked, or hardly cooked at all (as in the eggs used to make Caesar salad dressing, which are only slightly thickened for a thicker end-product). Poached eggs are eggs that, arguably, are coddled in a very specific way: they are very gently cooked, in simmering water that is just below boiling point.
There are two methods of coddling eggs. The first is to cook the egg in its shell, by immersing it in near-boiling water. This can be done either in a pan where the water is kept below boiling point, or by pouring boiling water over the egg and letting it stand for 10 minutes.
The second method is to break the egg in an egg coddler, porcelain cup or ramekin with a lid, and cook using a bain-marie. The inside of the egg coddler is first buttered in order to flavour the egg and allow it to be removed more easily. A raw egg (sometimes with additional flavourings) is broken into the coddler, which is then placed in a pan of near-boiling water for 7 to 8 minutes.
Coddlers have been manufactured by Royal Worcester in Worcester, UK, since at least the 1890s, and were probably invented there. Many companies now make egg coddlers, some of which are collectors’ items.
Coddled eggs do not always reach temperatures required to sterilize potential contaminants/pathogens; there is a 1 in 30,000 risk of exposure to salmonella and other bacteria. Using fresh eggs is recommended to minimize, or pasteurized eggs to remove the risk. According to the US Department of Health, eggs should be cooked until both the white and the yolk are firm, and the water temperature should be 74–82 °C (165–180 °F). Children, the elderly, and persons with compromised immune systems are advised against eating lightly cooked eggs because of the risk of exposure to salmonella infection.
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