We’d love to claim that we planned this whole ‘Cooking Around the World’ thing so that we’d start with Wales on the St David’s Day weekend, and cook an Irish dish on the St Patrick’s Day weekend. In truth, it’s a lucky coincidence, but hopefully also a sign that our proposed ‘route’ is going to be a good one.
Having been to Ireland a number of times ourselves, as well as having friends who live there, we’re well aware of many of the national delicacies, and have honoured old St Paddy in our kitchen many times before. (We should probably note that for the purposes of this venture, we aren’t differentiating between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland – imagine it as a sort of culinary version of the rugby team, which seemed to work for them in the Six Nations.) But what to make today posed itself as an interesting dilemma. We didn’t really want to go for the obvious choice of Irish stew, as, let’s face it, it wouldn’t be that different from the Welsh cawl we made two weeks ago. But if not that, what? The first things that come to mind when thinking of Irish cuisine are potatoes, Guinness and Baileys, probably in that order… so, something with champ? Beef in Guinness? Baileys cheesecake…?
In the end, thanks to Google, we were introduced to a dish called Dublin coddle, which only utilises one of the above ingredients (potato), but was something new to us and therefore something we wanted to have a go at. It’s definitely more of an Ashley dish than a Miranda one, due to the fact that it is pretty much sausages, bacon, potatoes and onions, but it was something new to try. It seems that unless you’re Irish and have a recipe handed down from your grandmother (which neither of us is), you probably don’t have a ‘traditional’ one, so we cobbled one together from the different variations that we looked at. Apparently the name comes from the verb ‘to coddle’, meaning to cook food in water below boiling. That doesn’t actually sound that appealing when you’re talking about sausages and bacon… but, when in Rome (or, in this case, Dublin)…
360g piece of bacon, cut into chunks
6 good quality Irish sausages
700g potatoes, peeled and sliced into 5mm slices
2 onions, peeled and sliced thinly
300ml chicken stock
A handful of parsley, chopped
1. Brown the sausages in a casserole pot, then remove from the pot and cut into chunks. Brown the bacon chunks in the same way.
2. Deglaze the pot with some Guinness (we managed to sneak some in, after all!).
3. Layer a third of the potato slices on the bottom of the pot, followed by half of the onions, half of the parsley and some salt and pepper. Add half the sausages and half the bacon.
5. Layer the remaining potatoes on the top of the pot and season. Add the stock.
6. Cover tightly and simmer gently for about an hour.
7. Remove from the stove and place under a hot grill until the top layer is golden brown.
8. Serve with cabbage and carrots. There is some debate over whether carrots should actually go in the coddle – but traditionalists seem to say no, so we agreed and just put them on the side.
Verdict on this is that although, as predicted, Ash was more of a fan of the finished product than Miranda, we both agreed that it was an easy, hearty, tasty meal – though probably more suited to winter than today’s balmy weather. Enjoy with Guinness and/or Irish cider if, like us, you have some in the house that you want to get rid of. You may also want some bread to mop up the juices. Soda bread would be the most patriotic option – and, speaking of which…
We opted against a dessert with this meal, being still slightly overloaded with cake after last weekend. But we did enjoy a variation of soda bread, with added fruit, for breakfast. This is the easiest and quickest type of bread to make as it doesn’t require proving, so goes straight in the oven as soon as you’ve mixed it up. It’s really yummy, too, especially straight out of the oven. It took quite a lot of willpower for us not to finish the whole loaf.
Fruity Soda Bread
100g plain white flour
200g plain wholemeal flour
2/3 tsp salt
2/3 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 cup buttermilk
60g dried fruit
If you don’t have any buttermilk, here’s an easy store cupboard substitute: put 1 tbsp of white vinegar or lemon juice in a 250ml measuring cup and fill with milk. Stir, then leave to stand for 5 minutes before using. (Don’t be afraid when your whole dough mix then smells like vinegar – it won’t when it’s cooked!)
Mix the flours, salt and bicarb in a bowl. Gradually stir in the buttermilk until you have a fairly wet dough. Mix in the dried fruit. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat into a round, then place on a lightly floured baking tray and score a deep cross into the top. One piece of advice here is to try to get as much fruit as possible under the surface of the loaf – if you’ve ever baked a fruit cake before, you’ll know that sultanas and the like tend to burn when baked. Bake for 30-35 minutes in a 230 degree oven.
Despite not incorporating any Baileys, we feel as though we’ve done a good job of representing Ireland this week. But will the same be true next week, when we put a new spin on a Scottish classic? Time will tell…