La Chatte Gitane (or The Gypsy Cat) was the name we chose for our cottage in France at the time. We chose it while on the road, moving house the first time round, from Ireland to France with 2 dogs and 7 cats in the car.
This blog began its insignificant life as a recipe book for friends and family who would ask me repeatedly for a recipe of this, that and the other.
Since then it has taken many different directions, like we did and like gypsies tend to do. Sometimes making a U-turn and revisiting familiar roads and taking a break when necessary.
You'll find recipes here, but also musings about the places we've called home, the gardens that we've established, not always successfully, the homes we've improved and the environments we've lived in. Currently, after yet another stint in Ireland, we're back in France @ Le Mas d'Ayen

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Bacon and Cabbage

This traditional Irish dish never appealed to me. The idea of boiling cabbage for however long (to death) in the bacon cooking liquid, fills me with sadness.
I've never 'boiled' cabbage of the white or green variety in my life and I certainly won't start any time soon.
I've always sauteed cabbage in a bit of butter with yes, a little water or stock if necessary, and only to the stage of  'al dente'. Seasoning with salt, freshly cracked black pepper and a good helping of nutmeg, grated on the spot.
In modern Ireland sauteed cabbage is more and more the norm. Fortunately.

The bacon used is cured in brine and then boiled in water with flavourings like bay leaf, onion, carrot, celery....

We have smoked bacon from our pigs in the freezer and cabbage from the garden and I set to work to make a, for us appealing, bacon and cabbage dinner.

For the bacon
  • 1 bacon joint (enough for the family and/or leftovers)
  • cider (I used 2 ltr for this)
  • water
  • Put the joint into a cooking pot.
  • Pour in the cider and top up with cold water till meat is covered.
  • Bring to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer 25 minutes per 0.5 kg (500 gr), plus an extra 20 minutes.
  • Take the bacon out and keep warm
For the cabbage
  • green, savoy or spring cabbage, 1 or 2, depending on size and density.
  • a knob of butter or lard
  • a splash of bacon cooking liquid
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • seasoning (salt, black pepper and nutmeg)

  • Trim the cabbage of outer leaves, halve or quarter it and shred/cut into largish strips.
  • Melt butter in a cooking pot and turn heat up high.
  • Add the cabbage, stir and turn heat low again. 

  • Sautee until al dente
  • You might need that cooking liquid to prevent burning the cabbage.
  • Add the mustard and season.
  • If you wish you can add cream or thicken with cornflour in a bit of milk.
Serve  this with a thick slice of bacon and boiled or steamed potatoes.

Now don't discard the cooking liquid. Store it in the freezer or make a soup with it straight away. I did. I made a whole pot of delicious erwtensoep/snert or pea soup in English.  Recipe to follow soon.

Patricia xxx...x


  1. It's never appealed to me either. I'm not a huge meat eater anyway and have always preferred my veg with a bite. I know it's a dish my mum enjoyed as a child and hat my husband likes it too. I'm pretty sure I've read of Nigel Slater putting in wedges of cabbage towards the end of cooking, I think that would be nice x

  2. Your version of Bacon and Cabbage sounds delicious and I have no reason to say think otherwise. What I find a bit off is your attitude to the old way of cooking this dish, for it was at a time when Ireland was poor and largely isolated from the culinary of skills of europe.

    1. I'm sorry you feel that way, Mel !
      I know very well that Ireland was poor. The cabbage was added in with the bacon near the end of the cooking. They managed to cook with only one pot hanging over the fire.
      Do you think the Belgians didn't boil cabbage to death ? They did.
      In France I've witnessed sauerkraut or choucroute being rinsed of all its goodness and and cooked for a very long time till there was nothing appetising left to eat.
      So no, I'm not being negative about the old Irish way of cooking at all. I love Irish traditional dishes.

  3. That looks tasty, I have always steamed cabbage, I never boil any veg. Sauteed sounds nice.x

  4. My Dad (and also Mrs.Beeton, incidentally...) used to boil cabbage for 40 minutes! In those days it was The Done Thing, and is no doubt the reason why many people think that cabbage is horrible. Your way is much better!


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