If there is one meal in Ireland that’s well known, it’s a traditional Irish bacon and cabbage dinner. It is at the heart of Irish life. It’s usually eaten on a Sunday, but really any day is perfect for this meal.
Every Irish person has memories of a softly boiled loin of bacon, cabbage and boiled potatoes with parsley sauce. For me, it conjures up memories of all the family around the table, laughing and talking about our day. While our dogs sat at our feet with their pleading eyes, hoping to catch a mouthful or two.
The Evolution of Irish Bacon and Cabbage
When Irish people immigrated to North America, they adapted their national dish to corned beef and cabbage. This was because corned beef was much more accessible and affordable. These days, you might find many Irish-Americans eating it on St. Patrick’s Day.
What to serve with a Traditional Irish Bacon and Cabbage Dish?
- You could have crispy Salmon Fishcakes or Mussels cooked in a garlic white wine sauce for starters.
- For dessert, you could have a simple chocolate brownie or a fancier Tarte Tatin (apple tart).
- For drinks, your favorite pinot noir, RosÃ© or a sparling wine. Also, a refreshing mocktail for the children, such as a mixture of one third sparkling water, apple juice and pineapple juice over ice cubes and a little slice of lime on top.
It goes great with two types of sauces, a mustard sauce, or our family’s favorite, a parsley sauce with a dollop of mustard on the side. Include some crusty white rolls to mop up the sauce at the end. You can plate this dish in a homely style or you can fancy it up like in the photo above.
- Properly stored, cooked cabbage will last for 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator.
- You can also freeze it in an covered airtight container or heavy-duty freezer bags. Defrost fully and when reheating make sure it is hot throughout.
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Traditional Irish Bacon and Cabbage
- 700 g Back Bacon or loin
- 10 Cloves
- 1 kg Potatoes washed and peeled
- 1 head Savoy Cabbage
- 20 g Butter
- 50 g Butter
- 3 tablespoons Flour
- 200 ml Cream
- 200 ml Cooking Liquid
- 3 tablespoons Parsley Leaves finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon Black Pepper
- Salt to season
- Place the bacon and cloves in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and remove the white foam at the top. This is the salt coming off the bacon.
- Simmer for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Keep the bacon submerged in water, so top it up with boiling water if it drops below.
- Cut the potatoes into halves, or if they are small keep them whole.
- Prepare the cabbage. Remove the outer leaves, cut the cabbage into quarters and remove the core stalk (these can be discarded).
- Wash the leaves thoroughly and slice the cabbage leaves into thin shreds.
- When there are 30 minutes left for the bacon – add the potatoes to a separate pot with cold water. Bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer. Test with a knife when they are done. Drain and set aside.
- In the last 10 minutes of cooking – add the shredded cabbage to the same pot as the bacon, simmer for 10 minutes and remove when tender.
- When the bacon is done, remove and set aside for 10 minutes to rest.
- Drain the cabbage and add back into the pot with 20 grams of butter. Stir to cover the cabbage in the melted butter.
- In a saucepan, gently stir the flour and 50g of butter together with a whisk until you have a thick paste. Cook the flour taste out for 2-3 minutes.
- Mix the cream and cooking liquid together in a jug. Gradually add this mix to the flour and butter.
- Keep the heat on a medium low, whisking constantly until everything is incorporated. You should have a smooth white sauce now.
- Right before serving, stir the pepper and fresh parsley into the sauce. Taste the sauce and the cooked bacon to see how salty it is. Season with salt if you want.
- Carve the bacon into slices. Serve the potatoes whole, crushed or mashed.
- Serve 2 slices of bacon per plate. Add the potatoes and buttery cabbage. Drizzle with a good helping of parsley sauce. Enjoy!