To Coddle or not to Coddle
Updated: Nov 10
On our visit to the UK this summer, we went to the Portabello Road Market. One of the vendors there became my new best friends; a couple in their 70’s who sold a variety of egg coddlers. Their stories had me laughing within minutes, and I’m sure they were also chuckling at this fast-paced American who knew nothing about egg coddlers.
I bought one for a friend, but our luggage was tight & I didn’t grab one for myself. Imagine my delight last week when at a local consignment shop, I saw a pair stamped “Royal Worcester made in England”. Now the proud owner, I had my first coddled egg for lunch yesterday and in case you’re still wondering, here’s the scoop:
“Coddled eggs, thought to date back to the late 1800s in England, were traditionally cooked in porcelain or clay coddlers, which look similar to an egg cup with a lid. “Coddling” essentially steams the egg, in its vessel, in a water bath, yielding a soft, tender egg.”
It seems there are many ways to boil an egg and Pinterest searches will provide many results for the “perfect/fastest/easiest to peel hard-boiled egg”. I’ve tried most of those with varying success using stove-top, oven, air fryer and, Instant Pot. But none were as delightful a process as the coddler.
First, I coated the inside with olive oil, then cracked the raw egg into the coddler. A little pepper on top (because it's my favorite), then screwed the lid on tightly.Submerging the coddler in a boiling pot of water (so only the handle is above water) is easy but a set of tongs helps avoid any burns.
Next, lower the range to a low boil and set the timer for 10 minutes. While it was cooking, it suddenly seemed necessary to prepare one of my china saucers for this masterpiece, accompanied by toast and marmalade. I’m quite sure that’s how I saw it being served on The Crown, but we also had our share of jams when we sat for Afternoon Tea in London.
What I remember most about Afternoon Tea at Roast in Borough Market is how the presentation + pace made everything so much more enjoyable. We shared taste sensations, lingered over a biscuit or marm and satisfied our palates long before the plates were empty. Tea in individual pots also gave us pause, time to talk and time to savor.
I know some of you may be wondering what happened to my “you don’t have to make it, just make it happen” motto. I still adhere to that principle when cooking for the masses, but am also learning to embrace the beauty in prep and presentation when I have the margin.
Are there any automated processes you could shift in order to slow down a bit, ponder as you prep and enjoy the beauty of a presentation? I think by taking a few extra minutes to coddle, I might be putting a pause where there used to be hurry. Is it time for afternoon tea yet? Anyone want to join me?