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St. Patrick’s Day Favorite: Dublin Coddle

img_20160317_142528.jpgDublin Coddle – a nourishing stew of sausage, potatoes, and bacon to warm you up.

I was looking for a new dish to try this St. Patrick’s Day, having thoroughly exhausted my usual corned beef hash in years past. Flipping through The Irish Pub, a relatively lightweight cookbook I found during the Borders bookstore liquidation, I came upon a recipe for Dublin Coddle, which sounded perfect for my cold, snowy St. Patrick’s day.

Looking at the simple ingredients, I was expecting to have to doctor this recipe up, but I was surprised at the delicious flavor. The heavy seasoning of black pepper during assembly really contributes to the personality of this dish.

The stew is essentially just sliced sausage, bacon, leeks, potatoes, and onions, with herbs and garlic tossed in for good measure. These are all layered in an oven-ready casserole dish after browning the onions and sausage and roasting the bacon, covered with chicken stock or water, and braised. I strongly suggest chicken stock, as even though the ingredients will impart wonderful flavor, the boost of a good, gently seasoned stock will do wonders.

As with most recipes here, my measurements are more ballpark than precise. What’s most import is to base your proportions on your casserole dish. Eye your baking dish, and visualize what it will take to make layers with these ingredients:

  • Good quality pork sausages, bratwurst-sized (and style). I used bockwurst.
  • Diced onions, enough to line the bottom of your casserole dish
  • Thick-cut bacon, 5 to 10 slices
  • Rough-chopped starchy potatoes, such as Russet
  • Leek green tops, coarsely chopped
  • Ground black pepper
  • A few garlic cloves, chopped
  • Herbs, such as thyme, rosemary, sage, and dill, finely chopped
  • Lightly seasoned chicken stock, at least 5-6 cups (enough to cover ingredients)
  • An oven-proof casserole dish with a lid (or foil), and pans for browning of ingredients

Directions

  1.  Brown your sausages on both sides in a pan. Allow to cool, slice width-wise into roughly 1-inch pieces, and set aside.
  2. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and roast your bacon until cooked. Set aside bacon fat for later, do not discard. Allow bacon to cool, and dice into 1/4-inch pieces. Set aside.
  3. Dice your onions. On the stovetop, saute the onions in some of your saved bacon fat until tender. Line the bottom of the casserole dish with the sauteed onions. Season with black pepper.
  4. Add up to a third or half of your chopped bacon in a new layer. Save the rest as a garnish for the end.
  5. Add the sliced sausages as the next layer in the casserole dish. Season with black pepper as well.
  6. Add the coarsely-chopped leek green tops, the diced garlic, and finely chopped herbs as the next layer.
  7. For the final layer, cover with a layer of roughly-chopped starchy potatoes. Season with black pepper.
  8. Pour enough chicken stock to cover all ingredients. Braise uncovered at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, then reduce oven heat to 250 degrees, cover casserole and braise until the potatoes are tender and have thickened the stew with their starch.
  9. Remove from oven, stir well, salt to taste, and cover the stew with a garnish of the remaining chopped bacon.

img_20160317_142405.jpgMy pot of Dublin Coddle, ready for a cold day.

Fruit Syrups for Cocktails.

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Homemade Berry Syrups

Fruit sale. Let’s make two syrups: Raspberry and blackberry, excellent for cocktails such as the Belmont (gin, cream, raspberry syrup). Quick recipe: 2 lbs of fruit in a quart of water, strain out fruit and toss, add 2 cups of sugar and boil it down to the thickness you want, skimming constantly. The color comes out very rich. I like to store it in old brandy bottles. Be sure to keep it in the fridge.

On Roasts.

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Lamb Roast, The Next Day

On roasts: I’m a strong advocate that all red meat roasts should be cooked as rare as possible (with potatoes to sop up the roasting juices) and then aged overnight in the refrigerator. You can then slice it into lazy medallions and fry it up in its own fat. If you bought a lean cut, any other fat will do. I’ve duck fat, lamb fat, and a jar of whiskey-fried bacon fat that makes angels sing when I drop a dollop into a pan.

Whiskey-Fried Bacon.

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Whiskey-Fried Bacon

This is a recipe I received from a dear friend in Scotland: bacon slow-fried in whiskey. The instructions were a little vague, so I filled in the blanks: the thickest bacon I could find, a quick marinade in good whiskey, then slowly fried over 40 minutes with continuous pourings of fresh whiskey every 5 minutes. I then drizzled the finished product in a whiskey reduction sauce.

I could say it came out okay, but that’s a lie. This is ambrosia of the gods. With the marinade and the sauce my house smells like the Willy Wonka factory of whiskey. Whiskey doesn’t smell this good in the bottle.

Garlic Crusted Beef Cross Rib Roast.

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Garlic Crusted Roast Beast.

Roast beast, roast duck, gin cocktail… it’s working. Glad to be done cooking! Recipe: Beef roast, small or medium. Chop thyme and rosemary and add to 4 large cloves of crushed garlic. Mix with 4 tablespoons of fine sea salt and add olive oil to cover the mixture. Spread the whole goopy mess over your raw roast, all sides and bottom. Put in oven uncovered in a pan and roast on 425F for about 30 minutes, or until only the thickest part of the center is still tender (if you want some nice medium rare). I’d give you a thermometer reading, but I broke mine a long time ago.

A Cassoulet for All Occasions.

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Cassoulet

Finishing hours of my little 2-day cassoulet: lovely browned hen from a night of low heat baking, homemade cognac Toulouse sausage cakes, essence of lamb and duck, and a refresh of herbs, covering the essential beans. A good, reliable cassoulet recipe can be found in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, but just know that the essentials are a nice white bean like great northern beans, first cooked to tender by themselves, before meats such as your choice of sausage, poultry (traditionally goose, but duck, chicken, and here a cornish hen will do) are layered in with fresh herbs such as sage, rosemary, thyme, and garlic and salt to suit.

In Pursuit of the Perfect Martini Glass.

In Pursuit of the Perfect Martini Glass.
 
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Martinis. This is a good glass – short, soft, not birdbath sized. It was hell finding a decent glass, that wasn’t too tall or with razor sharp edges (Bormioli), etched with tacky frosted patterns (Mikasa – really??), painted and nearly unwashable (Etsy), painted with lips or encrusted with jewels (I’m looking at you, Lolita), crazy overpriced (Riedel), or with zigzag stems or in packs of 15 (Libby). I found this glass AT THE DOLLAR STORE. There you go.

Now, Nik’s Retro Dirty as Hell Perfect Martini: Wash interior of glass with sweet vermouth, dump out. 1 1/2 ounces of gin, 1/2 ounce of dry vermouth stirred with ice and strained into glass, 2 olives, a dash of orange bitters (from vintage recipe) and a nice healthy splash of the olive juice. I know, I have no olive picks yet. Those come Friday. Stainless steel, baby.

 

Kalua Pig, First Test Batch.

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Kalua Pig

My first test batch of Kalua Pig, freshly shredded. It’s amazing! I got that flavor I love. I remember eating this every Tuesday in the elementary school cafeteria on Kaneohe Marine Base as a child. Forever my favorite Hawaiian dish. It’s traditionally cooked underground in a special oven, but you can achieve a remarkable hack of the dish by slow-cooking a pork shoulder that’s been rubbed in sea salt (or Hawaiian red salt, if you can find it), and a generous coating of a liquid smoke product, then cooked in a crock pot until it shreds easily with a fork. A good enough piece of pork shoulder will not even require water to be added in the crock, creating a nice juice, but if you need to add more moisture, a half a cup or so of salted water boiled with liquid smoke added can be mixed into the finished product.