My sense of well-being goes up several notches when I can count one or two sacks of storage potatoes snuggling under cover in a dark cool corner of our keeping room. It’s partly a matter of DNA, and partly the consequence of being able to multiply 2 (people) times 5 (months). And that works only if we don’t have a storm-surge of winter visitors. It’s not that we can’t count on other supplies in our freezers or on our shelves; we can actually do quite well on eggs from the hen house, home-baked bread and peanut butter if it comes to that; but a supply of honest spuds somehow adds a gourmet touch to even the most primitive diet in my way of thinking. They keep well if stored correctly, and can be boiled, baked, fried, sautéed, mashed, shredded or turned into salads.
If there is a “comfort food” offered up by nearly every Pub (Public House) in Ireland, it has to be Dublin Coddle in all its glorious variations. The version I have settled on after some delicious experimentation goes like this:
You will need 6 -8 bacon slices, 6 good quality pork sausages, 4 onions sliced, 6 russet potatoes peeled and cut into large chunks and 3 cups of chicken or ham stock. For flavoring use 2 bay leaves, 2 sprigs of fresh thyme, some chopped parsley, 2 garlic cloves chopped and black pepper. (You probably will not need additional salt.) Meanwhile be preheating the oven to 300 degrees.
To continue, sauté the bacon in a skillet until just starting to crisp; drain on paper towels and cut into 2-inch pieces, reserving the fat. Over medium heat cook the sausages for about 15 minutes, adding a little bacon fat if needed to keep them from sticking to the skillet. Remove them from the skillet and cut each into two or three-inch pieces and set aside. Using the same skillet, gently cook the onions for 7 minutes until soft but still transparent, adding more bacon fat if necessary.
To assemble layer the onions, sausages and bacon on the bottom of a baking/casserole dish, seasoning each layer with black pepper as you preheat the chicken stock. Add the seasonings and garlic, finishing with a layer of potato chunks. Season with a little more pepper and add the heated stock. (To give it all a quicker start, consider partly cooking the potatoes with the stock on a surface burner before assembling.) Tightly cover the dish with foil and bake for about 45 minutes. Remove the foil for the final 5 minutes. Serve with a fresh loaf of Irish Soda bread to soak up the juices.
While Irish Soda Bread is simple to make, it is not a simple matter to explain the process along with some “secrets” discovered over some years of making this breath-taking Pub standby. Look for it in an upcoming HOME COUNTRY column.
Partnered with a warm loaf of Irish Soda Bread, a Dutch oven full of Dublin Coddle helps to turn any kitchen into an Irish Pub. Notice a combination of Russet and Yukon Gold potatoes. Al Cooper Photo