Coddled eggs may have gone out of fashion, but they are always a delight.
One of the last gifts my mom gave me was a set of egg coddler cups from Williams Sanoma. They were beautiful little treasures in Delft white with blue, which she knew I loved, with shiny stainless-steel tops. She thought my guests at the inn would like them, and she was right. How special to be presented with your own little covered pot of slowly coddled eggs (baked), thick jammy yolks with whites mixed with cream, sitting atop some lovely little surprise of mushrooms or vegetables. It turns eating an egg into a special event; you are coddling not only the eggs, but your guests as well.
Coddle: To treat indulgently; baby. synonym: pamper.
Coddled and shirred eggs have completely gone out of style. However, if one is feeding a large group breakfast, they can all be cooked at once in the oven so you’ll save a lot of time standing over the stove, and the presentation is quite special.
Shirred versus coddled
A shirred egg is an egg that is baked in a custard cup, ramekin, or coddling cup. Usually, they are baked at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or so. A coddled egg is cooked in a similar manner, but placed in a bain Marie, a hot water bath, which keeps the cooking more even. This method will also take just a minute or two longer.
Of course you can use a custard cup!
When I was a kid, mom would make hers in custard cups, which are perfect for this. She used evaporated milk or, in more lush times, cream. I’ve also successfully used half-and-half, and also coconut milk if you need to avoid dairy. You don’t use much, and the cream mixes with the egg whites to make a custard-like consistency.
A world of possible fillings
The old-school filling on the bottom was often chopped spinach and onions, which is delicious. But you can use your imagination. I’ve used left-over home fries minced up, artichoke hearts, chili, garlic croutons, even leftover truffled mashed potatoes (husband’s favorite), just about anything you might want to serve with an egg on top. However, my hands-down favorite is sautéed shiitake mushrooms and onions. Simple but delightful.
Everything in moderation!
Since my husband’s heart attack, we’ve been quite careful about how many egg yolks we consume, and just one of these along with whole grain toast and some fruit is a perfect Sunday morning breakfast or brunch. Even though eggs are expensive right now, a one- or two-egg meal is still a bargain, and we always get lovely local eggs that are humanely raised and have a higher content of omega-3 fatty acids. Higher in minerals and antioxidants, those bright orange yolks mean more beta-carotene in their diets as well.
A very short learning curve
If you don’t have a set of special coddler cups from your mom, any custard cup or ramekin will work perfectly. Fashion a little top out of foil. Shirred eggs are a little easier for a beginner, you won’t have to mess with the water bath, but either way, keep an eye on them and if they are still unset, pop them back in the oven for a minute or two. You’ll get the hang of it!
Coddled Eggs with Shiitake Mushrooms
- 4 oz. shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- ½ small onion, diced
- Pinch of tarragon
- 2 large local organic eggs
- 2 tbsp. cream or light coconut milk
- Dash of hot sauce, optional
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp. cheese of choice, grated
- Parsley, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and put a kettle of water on to boil.
Sauté mushrooms and onions in a little butter or vegan butter. Add a pinch of tarragon and salt and pepper to taste.
Butter the egg coddling cups, custard cups, or ramekins. When the mushrooms and onions have browned, place in the bottom of the cups, filled about half-way up.
Make an indentation in the filling so the yolk will stay centered in the pot. Gently crack an egg in each one, coaxing it with a chopstick if necessary to stay centered. Add a couple of teaspoons of the cream and a shake of hot sauce if using, sprinkle with salt and pepper, cover, and place in a roasting pan. Bring to the oven, and add hot water to at least half-way up the cups.
Set your timer for 12 minutes. Remove the covers and sprinkle with the cheese. This is the messy part! The egg whites should be just starting to set around the edges.
Pop back in the oven for another 8 to 10 minutes, check at 8. They are done when the top just jiggles a bit and a gentle prodding on the outside of the egg feels set. This is not an exact timing situation, each time it will be a little different depending on the size of your eggs and what else you have in the cups.
Sprinkle with a bit of parsley, and enjoy!
Mom’s ramekins work fine, too! Here we have simply shirred eggs on mashed potatoes, with a bit of cheese on top.
© Copyright 2023– or current year, The New Vintage Kitchen. Unattributed use of this material is strictly prohibited. Reposting and links may be used, provided that credit is given to The New Vintage Kitchen, with active link and direction to this original post.
The New Vintage Kitchen does not accept ads or payment for mention of products or businesses.