Serious Eats: Recipes

Cook the Book: Traditional Irish Bacon, Cabbage, and Parsley Sauce

[Photograph: Caroline Russock]

On this side of the Atlantic, corned beef and cabbage may be about as Irish as a dish gets, but according to Darina Allen author of Forgotten Skills of Cooking bacon and cabbage is Ireland's national dish. This one calls for whole loin bacon, a British Isles export which is cooked along with the cabbage, sliced before serving, and paired with a creamy parsley sauce.

Unlike American bacon, Irish bacon is made from the back of the pig instead of the belly and is much leaner than streaky bacon. I used a presliced Irish bacon for this recipe but whole versions are available in British specialty shops.

Most of the flavor in this dish comes from the bacon that you choose. While preparing it, I realized that my bacon was relatively mild and added a few peppercorns and a bay leaf to bump up the flavor. The boiled bacon takes on a ham-like quality and the cabbage became plenty porky.

The bacon and cabbage is finished with a parsley sauce that's really nothing more than a b├ęchamel made from milk infused with thyme, carrots, and onion, thickened with a roux and finished with plenty of fresh, bright parsley.

This Irish bacon, cabbage, and parsley sauce was a nice break from the ubiquitous St. Patrick's Day standard of corned beef and cabbage which I've always found a little over the top, especially when made from the prepackaged corned beef. Without all of the salt and spices you can really taste the ingredients that go into the dish—it's clean and fresh and decidedly Irish.

Win Forgotten Skills of Cooking

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