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:
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!