Bacon and Cabbage: The meal that represents Ireland and the dinner the Irish crave when they’re away from home.

Ireland’s food board, Bord Bia, has just published research which shows that bacon and cabbage remains as Ireland’s most popular dinner.

The wholesome, hearty and old-fashioned meal is most certainly close to the Irish people’s heart.

The food board’s research found:

- 64% of Irish adults consider bacon and cabbage the meal most synonymous with Ireland

- 3 in 10 crave bacon and cabbage when travelling abroad

Of course Irish Americans could be in no doubt to the fact that this meal is special to the Irish. In the US it’s still very much a tradition to eat corned beef and cabbage, which evolved from the traditional bacon as it was difficult for Irish immigrants to get their hands on the meat at the time.

But in the name of tradition. Here’s a traditional Irish recipes for bacon and cabbage with a mustard sauce:

Ingredients

1½kg loin of bacon

1 carrot

2 celery sticks

2 leeks

1 teasp. Peppercorns

1kg cabbage, finely sliced

1 tablesp. butter

Topping

1 tablesp. Mustard

1 tablesp. oven-dried breadcrumbs

½ tablesp. brown sugar

Knob of butter

Mustard Sauce

50g butter

25g flour

1 tablesp. Mustard

250ml mixture cooking liquid and cream

To cook:

Place the joint in a large saucepan.

Add chopped vegetables and peppercorns.

Cover with cold water.

Bring to the boil, then simmer gently for approximately 20 minutes per ½ kg.

Set oven to gas mark 6, 200ºC (400ºF).

Remove the joint from the saucepan.

Reserve liquid.

Remove the rind and score the fat.

Place the joint on a roasting dish.

Spread with mustard and bread crumbs, sugar and a knob of butter.

Place in the oven for 15-20 minutes.

To make the sauce:

Melt the butter, add the flour and mustard.

Cook for a minute or two.

Whisk in the cooking liquid and cream.

Bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 3-4 minutes.

Taste for seasoning.

The sauce should have the consistency of thin cream.

Keep warm.

To cook the cabbage:

Place the cabbage in a saucepan and barely cover with some of the reserved cooking liquid.

Bring to the boil.

Reduce to a simmer and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Drain well and toss in butter.

Season to taste.

Slice the bacon and serve on the bed of cabbage, a little of the mustard sauce and of course floury potatoes.

For more cooking inspiration visit www.recipes.bordbia.ie.