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What is a Coddled Egg (Yolk)?

 I am making a salad and the recipe says to add one coddled egg yolk. I don't know what that is — and how do you add just the yolk of this egg?

 We occasionally think we might have been put on this planet to sort out all the nonsense foisted on our friends and neighbors by silly cookbook authors. This feels like one of those days.

Coddling, according to Anne Willan, author of The Country Cooking of France, is a process, not a product. The process involves placing one or more eggs in boiling water, removing the pan from the heat, covering the pan, and setting a timer.

By this definition, what we call a hard-boiled egg is an egg that has been coddled for 15 minutes or so. There are other stages of coddling. A soft-boiled egg has been coddled for 3 to 4 minutes, and has a soft white and a soft yolk. The white may be runny or lightly set, depending on the length of coddling time. Such an egg is usually eaten by placing it in a special egg cup, lopping off the top of the shell and spooning out the contents. It almost goes without saying that few people in this country eat these very underdone eggs anymore.

Mollet eggs (and we're not making this up) have been coddled for 5 to 7 minutes, and — very much like a poached egg — have a runny yolk and a white firm enough to contain the yolk. As Madeleine Kamman says, these eggs are to be enjoyed without garnish, just with bread and butter. "They make a royal meal."

A hard-cooked egg, in which the white and yolk are both firm, is coddled for 10 to 15 minutes. The longer the cooking time, the firmer the yolk.

Almost no one in this country knows or uses the term mollet. In general, in the infrequent cases that someone refers to coddled eggs, they are referring to eggs that have been cooked for 4 to 8 minutes.

None of this really helps with your question, does it?

The use of an ever-so-slightly coddled egg in a salad dressing gained popularity with the Caesar Salad. Julia Child says she spoke at length with Caesar Cardini's daughter to get the recipe just right before presenting it on television some years ago. She says a whole egg, coddled for exactly 1 minute, is the authentic approach for a Caesar Salad.

For your even slightly fussier preparation, you can easily coddle an egg for a minute, break it into a bowl and scoop out only the yolk for your dressing.

We have a really hard time seeing the point, however.

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