There are several different ways to coddle an egg, and your approach will likely depend on the time and equipment you have available, as well as the intended purpose of the coddled egg. Perhaps the most traditional method is to crack your egg into an egg coddler and submerge the coddler about half way up in water that is just below boiling. You could also simply place your egg, still inside the shell, in water that is near boiling, or pour boiling water over an egg and let it stand for a set period of time. If you are especially rushed and want to coddle an egg, then you can always crack your egg into a dish and place the egg in a microwave for a short time to cook it slightly in a way similar to coddling.
When you coddle an egg you basically cook the egg slightly. Traditionally, you use water that has come to a boil and is removed from the heat, or water held just below boiling to do this. The hard-boiled and soft-boiled eggs often served in American cuisine are basically eggs that have been coddled through a rather simple method. The most traditional way to coddle an egg involves the use of an egg coddler, a small dish similar to a ramekin, which is just larger than an egg and often made of ceramic.
To coddle an egg using a coddler, you would usually begin by buttering the inside of the coddler, to add flavor and make removal after coddling easier. You would then crack an egg into the coddler, at this point adding salt, pepper, chopped chives, or anything else that will add flavor to the egg. A shallow pan of water is brought to a boil, and then removed from the heat. You should then place the coddler with the egg inside of it into the pan, so the water comes about halfway up the side of the coddler. It should not be fully submerged.
After about four to eight minutes, depending on how cooked you want the egg, the coddler is removed, the lid opened, and the egg gently poured out of the dish. The resulting egg typically has a somewhat firm white with a yolk that has thickened but is still liquid. You can also coddle an egg by simply placing the egg, still within its shell, into water that is just under boiling for a certain amount of time. An egg can also be cooked briefly in a microwave, thought the results may not be as uniform or ideal as traditional methods. The yolk of a lightly coddled egg is often used in recipes for Caesar salad dressing, and coddled eggs are often served with toast or hash browns as part of breakfast.