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Author Notes: This St. Patrick's Day, instead of corned beef and cabbage, why not try the recipe the Irish recipe that inspired it? This recipe for boiled bacon comes from my Irish secondary school cook book, the now dog-eared and stained “All In the Cooking.” It’s right under the recipe for boiled sheep’s head, which I will not be sharing – or ever making. The bacon here is not a crispy breakfast strip, but a cured and smoked pork loin that is similar to ham. It’s typically served with cabbage, potatoes mashed or boiled in their skins and a white pouring sauce which is a type of béchamel sauce with onion, parsley or other herbs. You can find Irish style shoulder or boiling bacon at Irish import stores or online.
Irish boiling bacon
- 1 1/2 pounds Irish boiling bacon
- cold water
Savory or green cabbage
- 1 head of savoy or green cabbage, quartered, cored and shredded
- 2 tablespoons butter
- salt and pepper
- . Scrape off any discolored parts of the bacon. To get rid of excess salt, put it in a large saucepan, cover with cold water, bring slowly to the boil. Drain, then refill saucepan with cold water. Bring slowly to the boil again for 5 minutes. Skim the white froth from the top of the water to get rid of the salt. Tip: taste the water for saltiness, if it is still too salty, drain water and start again with fresh cold water.
- Turn down heat and simmer steadily for about 1 ½ hours. Occasionally, check for and skim any white froth that rises to the surface.
- . When cooked, remove the bacon from the pot, reserving the cooking liquid. Set aside and cover with foil or a kitchen towel to keep warm while cooking the cabbage.
- Cut cabbage into quarters, core and finely shred across the grain.
- Bring bacon cooking water back to a boil. Add the cabbage and cook for about 3 minutes until tender. Drain well. Return cabbage to the saucepan, add butter, salt and pepper to taste.
- Remove and discard the rind from the bacon and slice into thick pieces. Serve with the buttered cabbage.