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Saturday, March 03, 2012

If Only I'd Known... MMMmmm Good!!!

"Food, like a loving touch or a glimpse of divine power, has that ability to comfort." ~Norman Kolpas
  When My daughters were small I used to make a slow roasted dinner in the oven every Sunday. This dish consisted of a four pound chuck roast, 6 large potatoes, one large onion, and seven large carrots. I also used 2 packages of Lipton Onion Soup Mix, four cups of water, and a bay leaf.
   I seared the chuck roast in a hot skillet then laid it on a bed of sliced onion in a roasting pan, arranged the carrots around it, mixed the Lipton Onion Soup mix with the water, poured it over the meat and veg, tossed in a bay leaf, covered it and set the oven for 300F (Gas Mark 2), letting the roast cook slowly for about two and half hours.
   I turned the roast, threw in the potatoes, covered it all and returned it to the oven to finish cooking for another hour. I always served this with rolls, tossed green salad, and Lazy pie--a shortcut canned peach dessert with a browned crust. This is a quintessential American Sunday pot roast dinner.
   Since moving to the U.K. I've been introduced to a new recipe which--had I only known about it--would have been my Sunday favorite hands down! Boiled Bacon with Colcannon! OH-MY- GODDESS!!
   Les' daughter in law Joanne comes from Irish folk and she gave me her recipe. I also did some online research and most authentic Irish sites say any good soul from the Old Sod would have had boiled bacon for Saint Paddy's Day--not Corned Beef and Cabbage--which is solidly American (and which my two favorite daughters despise; whenever I made Corned Beef and Cabbage they turned down their mouths and called it Irish pond scum.)
   When Les and I were courting over the phone he mentioned once that he was visiting his son Kevin and his daughter in law Joanne, and JoJo was fixing one of his favorites-- boiled bacon and vegetables.
   My American imagination saw stringy pieces of fatty bacon, swimming in a vat of boiling water with carrots, potatoes and cabbage. I remember thinking, "Note to self: "Do not EVER accept a dinner invite for boiled Bacon. uh unh!"
   When I queried Les about it he was less that helpful since he had no idea I had no idea what he was talking about. It was another one of those funny cultural moments we bump into every now and then.
   Now that I've actually seen Boiled Bacon and tasted it I can only say Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa, Mea Magna CULPA.
   It was the tenderest, most mouthwatering, succulent bit of pork to ever rest on my palate. I had to make it and without further delay here is the recipe for my American friends and family who have NO CLUE what they are missing!

Boiled Bacon with Colcannon:

1 four pound (1.8 Kg) smoked or unsmoked boneless gammon joint.
For Americans this is what the British call ham, so you are looking for a four pound, boneless unsmoked ham roast.
Unwrap the ham and place in a 5 quart cast iron enameled Dutch oven or a large soup pot with a tight fitting lid. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Put the lid on the pan and boil the ham for 2 hours. Flip over the roast so the bottom is on the top, replace the lid and turn down the heat to simmer for another 2 hours.
Remove the cooked ham from the pot and place it in another shallow pan with a little of the ham water, cover with tinfoil and keep warm in a low oven.
Peel 6 large potatoes and cut into quarters. Add them to the water in which you cooked the ham and boil until fork tender. I tossed a bay leaf into my water just because...
While the potatoes are cooking, chop half a small head of green cabbage into small chunks or shreds. Set aside. Peel seven carrots and cut into thick round coins.
Toss the carrots into the pan with the potatoes 10 minutes after you started the spuds. Once the potatoes are done, remove them from the ham water with a slotted spoon.
Add your cabbage to the pan with the carrots, cover and simmer for another eight minutes. Remove the bay leaf at this time.
Meanwhile mash your potatoes with a large knob of butter and 1/4 c. of warm evaporated milk. Add ground pepper to taste but you will not need salt--the ham provided it already.
Now strain out your carrots into a dish, add a knob of butter, a splash of maple syrup and a sprinkling of salt. They are ready to go!
Stir the drained cabbage into the mashed potatoes. I also added one Tablespoon of fresh diced chives because I love the taste of onion with all of this goodness.
Remove the ham from the oven, unwrap and pull apart. Serve with heaping spoonfuls of Colcannon and carrot coins. Slainte!! (That's Gaelic and it means To Your Health!)

Post Script: I edited this blog to remove all references to Bubble & Squeak which Sarah aboard NB Chertsey was kind enough to point out, is cold boiled potatoes chopped up and fried with bits of cabbage.

After looking online I found a recipe for the mashed potatoes with cabbage and it is called Colcannon in Irish, so...there you go!


Anonymous said...

Def gonna try it. Sounds delish!


Anonymous said...


The name boiled bacon and bubble and Squeak does sound nasty and kind of random to these American Ears, but the recipe sounds delish. Thanks for putting this out here, maybe I can make this the day before St Patty's, since here in America, I will be celebrating this holiday the only way I know how--- wearing an inordinate amount of green and getting drunk.

With love,

Christina, from the green and lush part of Washington State!!!

Les Biggs said...

Hi Sally. let me know how it comes out for you. It was so easy--fixing it all in one pan. The secret to good Bubble and Squeak is as JoJo tells me, to boil the potatoes in the same water in which the ham was boiled.
:) Jaq

Les Biggs said...

Hello Christina! You sound so perky and happy. That's great. Let me know how this comes our for you!
Love Jaq

Sarah said...

Hi Jaq, I love reading your blog. I think you are missing something here though.. mashed potato and cabbage is a traditional Irish dish all right, but it ain't bubble and squeak! That is a pleasure you have yet to come. It involves cold boiled potatoes chopped small, and cold cabbage, all stirred up and fried until brown and crisp. The name comes from the sounds it makes as it cooks.

Les Biggs said...

Hi Sarah,
Thanks for the head's up! I wondered about the name. It didn't make any sense to me because as you say the mash didn't bubble--or squeak! Les says he remembers his mum frying it in a pan, so I will give it a try!
:) Jaq

Nb Yarwood said...

What is missing from this wonderful dish is the traditional pease pudding. Boiled bacon and carrots and pease pudding..heaven!!

Les Biggs said...

Hi Lesley,
I'll have to take your word about pease pudding. I only like peas fresh, preferably raw in their pod.

John Witts said...

It would be foolish in the extreme to attempt to gainsay one so wise as Sarah, but my own understanding of the ingredients of Bubble and Squeak are, basically, everything left over from Sunday's roast....

I have made some good un's with ingredients as diverse as cabbage, mashed swede and carrot, Brussels sprouts, peas, runner beans, roast name it! However, a requirement is definitely a supply of mashed potato as a base.

The trick with it is to fry at a high heat until you smell burning, then turn it. Repeat until you are salivating so much you can bear no more.....

Good with bacon or sausages, but surely best with cold cuts from the Sunday joint.....

If you haven't yet discovered Picallili, Branston Pickle or HP sauce, now is the time to try......

Anonymous said...

Good Grief!!! NEVER had boiled bacon? You have never lived!! I use the water after to boil rice in, its delicious.....YUM YUM, it's mine and my dads favourite. Enjoy.
Carol (BV)

Anonymous said...

Bubble and squeak is any unused cooked veg. LOVELY
Carol again. xx

Anonymous said...

You need to get Jaq down the pie and mash shop!!!!

Les Biggs said...

Leave it to the Irish to give everything a mystical, magical name: Bubble and squeak indeed!

Your description leads me to thinking about the way we Americans tend to call things--blunt and straightforward: Irish stir fry!
:) Jaq

Les Biggs said...

Hi again Carol,
A) yes Les does need to get me to a pie and mash shop; B) what can I say? It is obvious to me now that I live over here in this fabulous country, what a deprived life I've led back in the States! :) C) I can see why boiled bacon is one of your favorites. Wherever I go when I die, it WILL be on the menu all the time!

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs