Potatoes and cabbage are probably the two vegetables Ireland is most famous for. Millions of heads of cabbage will be cooked and eaten on March 17th and in the days leading up to St. Patrick’s Day. Irish cabbage is boiled and shredded and served with melting butter.
When I was preparing corned beef last week, I mentioned to my husband that I planned to steam the cabbage in wedges. A look of disappointment crossed his face as he declared:
“Don’t give me any fancy wedges of cabbage. I like my cabbage Irish style.”
And so I cooked our cabbage Irish style, boiled and cut up into shreds, then served with melting butter. My grandmother always cooked cabbage in the same pot and salty water she used to boil bacon. I like the flavor a little bacon adds to cabbage, so I thought I would share my cabbage cooking technique with you today, in preparation for our favorite saint’s feast day. It comes with a seal of approval from my Donegal man.
1/2 head of green cabbage
1 teaspoon of peppercorns
3 slices of streaky bacon
1/2 teaspoon of salt
Water for boiling.
Note: Cooking half a head of cabbage yields about 4 servings. I usually cook just half a head at a time, but this recipe works fine if you cook the whole head of cabbage, yielding about 8 servings.
Here is my trick for adding a little bacon flavor to my American boiled cabbage. I take the outer leaf off the cabbage head and remove the hard stalk at the very end.
Next I place 3 slices of bacon folded over in the center of the leaf, together with 1 teaspoon of peppercorns.
Next comes time to fold up this flavor packet, by bending the sides of the leaf inwards over the bacon, then rolling up the cabbage leaf. Secure it with some cotton thread, that will withstand boiling water.
Next cut the cabbage head in two halves. Remove the inner hard core of the cabbage by slicing on either side of it. Wiggle it and it should pop right out.
Peel the leaves off the cabbage head, layer by layer. Pop them in a colander and rinse them under cold water.
Transfer the cabbage leaves into a large saucepan, tearing any large leaves into smaller pieces. Add the bacon and peppercorn packet prepared earlier.
Cover the cabbage with water and season with salt. Bring to a boil.
Turn the heat down and simmer for 20 minutes until the cabbage is tender.
Drain the cabbage and return it to the pot.
Discard the cabbage package with the bacon and peppercorns.
Using a knife cut through the cabbage leaves.
When shredded nicely, add some butter if desired.
Serve with potatoes and corned beef. Simply delicious with a few knobs of butter melting over the cabbage and potatoes.
Wishing you all happy cabbage cooking for St. Patrick’s Day.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)
Irish American Mom