First of all I have a confession to make... I came to live in Ireland in 2006 and... it's only this month that... for the VERY FIRST time I've cooked AND eaten traditional Irish bacon and cabbage! I know! Why so late you're asking?! I have no idea, but I can assure you about one thing - I'll eat it at least once a month from now on! It's very easy to cook - besides the parsley sauce (which really IS a must) everything else basically cooks itself on it's own, you just have to keep an eye on it.
Another confession to make - I hate parsley! I don't really know why, but it's been like this since I was little. But saying all this - I LOVE this parsley sauce! Am I weird or what...? ;)
So considering all the above I think that anyone who haven't tired this dish yet HAS to try it! I'm a total convert when it comes to parley - at least when it comes to this particular sauce. And when it comes to B&C - it's one of my favourite dishes now and one that will be on my dinner table very often from now on!
I made this dish following a recipe from a great book by Neven Maguire "The Nation's favourite food".
How to make it...
- 2,25 kg pork loin, collar or streaky bacon with rind on (smoked or unsmoked)
- 1 savoy cabbage
- 50 g butter
- sea salt and pepper
- 600 ml milk
- 1 fresh thyme spring (I used dried one)
- 1/2 onion, sliced (I used 1 whole shallot)
- handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves finely chopped and stalks reserved
- 25 g plain flour
Place the bacon in a large pan and cover with cold water. Bring slowly to the boil and if the bacon is very salty there will be white froth on top of the water, discard the water and start again. It can be necessary to change the water several times, depending on how salty the bacon is. Cover with the lid and simmer until cooked, allowing 20 minutes per 450 g.
Meanwhile trim away outer leaves of the cabbage. Cut into quarters and remove the core. Slice the cabbage across the grain into thick shreds.
As per Neven's recipe - he tells you to add the cabbage at the end of the bacon's cooking time, but unfortunately that didn't work well for me the first time I made this dish, so second time round I made it "my way".
So, I cooked the bacon completely and removed it from the pot saving the water. bring the water back to the boiling point and put your shredded cabbage in. Cook for about 5-7 minutes max, till the cabbage is done (which for me is still nice and bright in colour with a slight crunch to it). Strain the cabbage and discard the water. Add the 50 g of butter and season with pepper (it will be salty already as the water from bacon was slightly salty).
To make the parsley sauce - put the milk in a pan with the thyme, onion, and parsley stalks. Bring to a simmer, season to taste and simmer for about 4-6 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 30 minutes if time allows, then strain through a sieve.
Melt the butter in a clean pan and stir in the flour. Cook for 1 minute, stirring, and the gradually add the infused milk, whisking to combine. Continue to simmer until the sauce has slightly thickened, then season to taste and stir in the chopped parsley leaves. If not using immediately, remove from the heat and set aside until needed.
To serve - carve the bacon into slices, add buttered cabbage and some boiled potatoes (or mash if you prefer) and drizzle over some of the parsley sauce. Enjoy!