Bacon and Cabbage

Monday 14 September 2015

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I recently purchased a new cookery book.  I know . . .  I didn't really need a new cookerybook, but it was my birthday and cookbooks are what bring me the most pleasure.  I read them like novels and always have a stack next to the bed which I am flipping through.  Call it what you will.  Obsession?  Guilty as charged!   This one is really special however.  It's called The Country Cooking of Ireland, by Coleman Andrews and it's a real winner.  I have always felt that if you want to get a real sense of what a country is like, you will embrace the food of that country . . .  and to do that you really need to get into the thick of the countryside.  Let me tell you . . .  the Irish countryside is a very delicious place!  Especially if this recipe is a fair representation of that, and I believe it is.

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I have a friend Jo, who has very deep Irish roots and she has always gone on about Irish Bacon and Cabbage, so when I saw this recipe it was one of the first ones which I wanted to cook.   Jo always made it sound so delicious.

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There is nothing out of the ordinary here  . . .  it's just simple imgredients . . .  cured pork, a few vegetables, water  . . .  pepper.  Cabbage.

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Simple ingredients put together in a simple way with extraordinarily delicious results!  I made a mustard sauce to serve with it, and boiled new potatoes . . .  but a parsley sauce is just as delicious.  I do hope you will give it a go. 

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*Bacon and Cabbage*
Serves 4 to 6
My friend Jo used to go on about her nan's bacon and cabbage. Now I know why.

1.5 kg cured pork loin (3 pounds)
(In one piece)
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
2 stalks of celery, trimmed and chopped
2 leeks, chopped (white parts only)
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 TBS Dijon mustard
1 TBS fresh bread crumbs
(Dry in the oven for 30 minutes at 120*C/250*F)
1 1/2 tsp soft light brown sugar
2 TBS butter, softened
1 kg( 2 pounds) white cabbage, finely shredded
To serve:
mustard or parsley sauce (See below)
boiled new potatoes

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Put the pork into a large pot along with the carrot, celery, leeks and peppercorns.  Cover with cold water.  Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Simmer, uncovered for about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F/gas mark 6.  Remove the pork from the pot to a roasting pan large enough to hold it.  Strain and reserve the pot liquer.

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Cut the rind off the pork and discard.   Score the fat all over with a sharp knife.  In a small bowl, combine the mustard, bread crumbs, brown sugar and 1 TBS of the butter.  Mix together well.   Spread over the top and sides of the pork loin and then roast in the heated oven for 20  minutes, til glazed and golden.

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While the pork is roasting put the cabbage into a saucepan just large enough to hold it all.  Add reserved cooking liquid to cover.   You may need to add a bit of water, which is okay.  Bring to the boil, then reduce and simmer until the cabbage is cooked through, but retaining some crispness.   (This should take about 6 minutes.)  Drain well and toss in a bowl along with the remaining TBS of butter.  Season to taste with salt.

Place the cabbage onto a large platter.  Slice the pork into 1/2 inch thick slices and lay on top of the cabbage.  Serve with mustard or parsley sauce and boiled new potatoes on the side.

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*Mustard Sauce*
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

1 small onion, peeled and stuck with 2 cloves
1 small bay leaf
225ml (1 cup) heavy cream
2 TBS butter
2 TBS plain flour
1 TBS Dijon or English Mustard

Put the onion and bay leaf into a small saucepan.  Add the cream and bring to the boil over medium heat.  Set aside to infuse for 15 to 20 minutes.   Using a clean saucepan, melt the butter in the pan over low heat.  Whisk in the flour and cook for one minutes, stirring constantly.  Slowly strain the cream into the mixture and whisk well.  Cook, stirring constantly for another minute or so.   Whisk in the mustard.   Keep warm.

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To make a Parsley sauce:  Make the sauce as above, except leaving out the mustard.   Whisk in 225ml of chicken, ham or vegetable stock and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently for 3 to 4 minutes.   Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Stir in a handful of chopped fresh parsley (20g/1/2 cup)  and serve immediately.


  1. I like yourmustard sauce..Marie good for you and the book!

    I used to go to bed w/ recipe books I find I do less since Pinterest etc..even my desire for cookbooks has abated..tremedously..

    I am guilty of taking my mini Ipad to bed..should not.

    1. It's a really lovely book Monique. It really is and won a James Beard Award. The author is using one of my recipes in his next book, about English Cookery! Colour me thrilled to pieces.

  2. Marie, I've seen so many recipes for bacon and cabbage. What would you consider the Canadian equivalent of the bacon? I've always wanted to try it, I know we'd just love it. Simple ingredients, cooked right always make for the tastiest meals.

    1. That's a hard one Noelle, but I have to say, if you can get yourself a piece of sweet pickled pork you are coming pretty close. You could also use ham,preferably with the bone in. We used to have a butcher in the Valley that did his own smoking and his bacon and hams were out of this world. Sweet Pickled Pork is not the same as pig parts in a jar. It is more similar to corned beef and beef brisket. Examples include Cottage Roll and Peameal Bacon.

      The pork is cured with a brine instead of a vinegar. There are many different recipes for the brining. Some add spices, some add sugar, some add saltpetre or Prague powders to pinken the meat and help ensure no botulism. Some use commercial products instead such as Tender-Quick by Morton and just mix with water. Commercial brines might include sodium erythorbate and sodium nitrate.

      The brining process has to be done in a non-reactive vessel (see Pickling,)

      Butchers used to have tanks of cold brine solution in which they would do, in the same brine, pork, beef brisket, beef tongue, etc. The brine solution would be made of cold water, pickling salt and a small amount of saltpetre to help the colouring of the meat. The meat would rest in the brine for a few days,

      Sweet Pickled Pork needs cooking afterward; it is still raw. You cook by simmering it in water, so it is ideal for crock-pots. Depending on what part of the hog it’s from, you can also bake it. You could for instance have a pickled leg, boned, that you stuffed and baked in the oven, or bake a pickled ham with a brown sugar coating. MY mother's cousins still pickle their own pork and it is gorgeous. It also goes very well with kraut. (I found the following for you online. It looks about right.)

      Recipe for Pickling Meats

      One large stew pot
      One large crockery or glass container

      The Pickle or Brine Mix

      6 lb. salt
      1 lb. sugar
      4 oz. saltpeter
      4 gallons water
      Meat (whatever will fit in your crock)
      Bring 4 gallons of water to the boil over high heat. This was done originally outside over a large camp file, but it can be managed on a home cook top these days.
      After the water is at a rolling boil, add all of the salt, sugar, and saltpeter.
      Boil the mixture until a large head of foam appears. Skim this head off the foam. Next, remove the pot from the fire and allow the pickling mix to cool to room temperature.
      Pour the cooled pickling mixture into a large crock and add the meat that you wish to preserve. This is usually beef, pork, or venison. In order to submerse the meat and keep it totally under the pickling liquid, place a clean cutting board on top of it and weight it down with something healthy, In the Civil War days and on the farm, they simply used a heavy, large flat, stone.
      Leave the meat in the pickle liquid for three days.
      Keep the pickling mixture!
      Use the pickling liquid again by adding additional salt, about two pounds worth.
      Place over high heat to a rapid rolling boil. Boil the liquid until a scum rises visibly to the top and skim this off. Cool the liquid as before and re-use it to pickle additional meat.

  3. This was a great meal. Here in NZ I heated gently in a little butter some ham steaks. Boiled some baby carrots with the potatoes. Boiled the cabbage lightly,drained and added butter and black pepper. Then the jewel in the crown was the mustard sauce which I made according to your directions. A wonderful “home”meal :). The mustard sauce was the best I have made and as a Kiwi we have a standard one which everyone makes and it beats that. I know I will be making this to go with lots of other things. Thanks so much Marie. Your old Zaar friend Jen T in NZ

    1. Thanks so much Jen! Nice to hear from you! I am so pleased you enjoyed the sauce! Your dinner sounds lovely! xo


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