Irish Bacon & Cabbage

17 Mar 2011

It’s St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland and we have an array of brilliant celebrations to choose from even in rural Ireland. Since today is a national holiday, our little boy is home from school and we will be going to the nearby pretty village of Adare where there are loads of family festivities planned for the afternoon.

Across America today, people will be feasting on corned beef and cabbage washed down with a pint or two of green-tinged lager, which has long been a tradition. Little did I know, this is not the case in Ireland.

I remember asking my father-in-law on my first Paddy’s Day “will we be having corned beef and cabbage for dinner today?”…the answer was a resounding “No, not at all!” I was told that corned beef is not preferable in Ireland as it is thought of as a lower grade cut/style of beef that might have been eaten long ago, but certainly not today.

In fact, I’m told there really isn’t a specific dish that is eaten on the day, rather just something special like a roast dinner or possibly bacon and cabbage with parsley sauce. The most important part of this holiday here on the farm would have been picking a shamrock to pin on your shirt, going to mass and then to a parade or other local festivities to celebrate.

My mother-in-law makes an absolutely delicious bacon and cabbage dinner. She likes to prepare it in the customary way: boiling the meat, cabbage and potatoes and serving it us with a little butter and salt. Nothing fancy, but if you boil the bacon at just the right temperature for just the right amount of time, it is tender and superb.

Irish bacon is totally different from what we consider bacon in America.  Irish “bacon” is basically a chunky cut of cured pork loin, quite different to the strips of streaky, crispy breakfast pork that we refer to as bacon in the USA.

I’ve decided to take it a step further and boil the bacon, then glaze it with our farm honey and roast it in a very hot oven for 25 minutes. The cabbage was steamed and then char-grilled on the bbq.

A velvety parsley sauce is lovely served on the side as well

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Slan Abhaile,

Imen

Photos and styling by Imen McDonnell. Assisted by Sonia Mulford Chaverri

 

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