Bacon & cabbage is one of my absolute favourite dinners, true comfort food and traditional in our house to have on St Patrick’s Day. It is also one of those dishes that I have rarely enjoyed in a restaurant – you don’t tend to see it on menus and even when you do see it, it is often disappointing as the cabbage tends to be overcooked and would put you off it for life. I cook this regularly now because this particular cut of bacon is so easily available, so cheap and the leftover cooked ham makes delicious sandwiches – so much nicer and healthier than anything you get in a packet. The piece of bacon in the picture above cost just €3, it served 3 of us for dinner with some leftover for a sandwich the next day! Remember if you are buying it choose one where there is a good layer of fat on top (most of them have the rind removed so you can see it easily) and the meat is nice and lean (like a good rasher!). There was a time when I would have always soaked a piece of bacon overnight to ensure it wasn’t too salty but whatever way they cure the bacon now, I find that there is no need to do this now. People are often asking me how I cook my cabbage so I have included the instructions below as well.
This method of cooking is so reliable that I used it for my Christmas ham this year – I bought a larger piece of the same cut of meat (ordered in advance specifying a piece with the rind still on) and cooked it in exactly the same way. It worked a treat. I boiled the bacon on Christmas Eve, kept the cooking liquid and on Christmas Day reheated it in the same pot and then finished it in the oven.
1 loin of bacon approx 3lb / 1.5 kg
1 tablespoon of English mustard (jar)
1-2 tablespoons of demerara sugar
- Place the piece of bacon in a large pan and cover with cold water.
- Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer gently for 20 minutes per 450g (1lb). A piece this size should take no more than 1 hour (the bacon can be cooked ahead to this point – just reserve the cooking liquid and re-heat it in the liquid before dressing with the mustard and sugar)
- Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F / Gas 6.
- Remove the cooked bacon from the pan and reserve the liquid.
- If there is a rind on the bacon carefully cut it off to reveal the layer of fat underneath
- Pat with a piece of kitchen paper to remove any excess moisture
- Spread the top with the mustard and sprinkle over the sugar
- Put the bacon in an oven-proof dish or roasting tin and pour some of the reserved liquid into the dish / tin.
- Place in the oven for approx 20 / 30 mins until the fat is nicely golden and glazed on top
- Remove from the oven and place the bacon on a warmed plate to rest before slicing and serving
- Remove any tough outer leaves
- Wash leaves thoroughly in cold water and cut any thick stalks out of the leaves
- Cut into strips (approx. 1cm)
- At this stage you can choose whether to boil it or stir-fry it. My preference is to stir-fry it but I use both methods from time to time depending on what mood I am in!
- To boil – boil a small amount of salted water in a large saucepan and cook the cabbage in it for a couple of minutes – do not take your eyes off it as it will overcook in a flash.
- To stir-fry – melt some butter in a large saucepan and when it is foaming toss in the cabbage strips and stir fry for a few minutes until cooked.
Note : Perfectly cooked cabbage still has a bit of a bite / crunch to it i.e. not soggy so cooking time should be short.
Serve with some boiled / mashed potatoes and of course a knob of butter. Enjoy