Irish bacon and cabbage? Not corned beef and cabbage, you ask? Let me explain.
Irish bacon, yes bacon, and cabbage dates back hundreds of years. While the wealthy Irishmen could afford beef, regular, everyday Irishmen could not. If they had access to meat at all, it was likely pork. Because there was no way to store pork for long periods of time, the Irish would cure or brine the meat and turn it into bacon as a means of preserving it.
When mass immigration began after the famine in the 1800s, many Irishmen and women immigrated to the Americas and found that beef was affordable there. Beef was actually more affordable and accessible than pork, and therefore corned beef and cabbage began to catch on.
That being said, we’re sticking to true Irish traditions in this dish and using pork.
This recipe typically calls for Irish Bacon which is different than American bacon. American bacon is created from pork belly, while Irish bacon uses meat from the back of the how. It is similar to Canadian bacon or pancetta, although it has a layer of fat around the meat. Irish bacon isn’t easily found at your regular grocery store. If you can find it, great. Otherwise, this dish is just as tasty with standard ham, which is what I used to make it at home. Trust me, it was delicious.
What’s really nice about this dish is that you can cook the ham in advance and only worry about the vegetables and sauce later. It tastes great re-heated and can be enjoyed for healthy dinners all week long.
2 pounds ham (or Irish bacon), cooked
3 cups red potatoes, cut into one-inch cubes
4 carrots, chopped
1 large savoy cabbage, trimmed, cored, and quartered
7 + 1/4 cups chicken broth, divided
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1 shallot, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
2/3 cup white wine
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 1/4 cups milk
Salt and pepper to taste
After cooking the ham, keep warm.
In a Dutch oven, add the red potatoes, carrots, and cabbage. Cover the vegetables with 6 cups of chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce and let simmer for 20 minutes, then drain and discard the bay leaf. Half each of the cabbage quarters.
While the vegetables are cooking, you can get started on your white wine sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add onion and garlic until tender (approximately 3 minutes), stirring frequently. Stir in the wine and mustard and simmer for another two minutes until the mixture reduces slightly. Add the remaining 1 1/4 cups chicken stock and the milk to the pot and bring to a boil. Cook for 20 minutes or until reduced to approximately 2 cups, stirring frequently. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Cut ham into slices and serve with the cabbage, carrots, and potatoes. Top the entire dish with the white wine, mustard, and shallot sauce.