Yesterday’s guess-the-gadget post posed the thought-provoking question, What is this little Irish thing found in the back of a cabinet? When we originally encountered this bit of porcelain, it was holding herbs (as Liz suggested), but the ring-shaped nubbin on the lid left us puzzled. A clue?
It was a fortuitous visit to the Harrods website that tipped us off. We spied a similar-looking object manufactured by Royal Worcester, pictured right. If you want to take one last guess, re-visit the original post. If you're ready for the answer, read on. As it turns out, Ann, Alex, Margery and Mark were right on the money with Egg Coddler. Invented in Britain in the 19th Century, egg coddlers are a device for, well, coddling eggs. The delectable result lies somewhere between a soft-boiled egg (but without the shell), and a poached egg (but without any of the wateriness).
The preparation is simple. Lightly butter the interior of the coddler (including under lid). Break an egg inside and add salt and pepper (grated cheese, herbs, salmon, bacon or ham, etc., may also be added at this point, according to taste). Secure the lid loosely (a few turns will do—too tightly and it could get stuck), and lower the coddler into a pan of boiling water. This is where the lifting ring, as Mark shrewdly noted, comes in. (We thread a bent metal skewer through the lid when using ours.) Water level should be about halfway up the body of the coddler, no higher. Allow to simmer for 7-8 minutes (times will vary with size of egg, thickness of coddler, etc.), and remove, lifting by the ring. Set on a tea towel to drain off any excess water, and serve at the table. The lid will keep the egg warm a few minutes, as needed. Egg coddlers are highly collectible, and there’s an entire website devoted to their classification and care. Turns out our particular model was manufactured by an Irish company called Wade in the 1970s, and a volley of bids on eBay soon produced a mate for the original (which is a single-egg model), and later rounded out the family with two additional taller models, which are for double-egg recipes. - Nora