Abstract: A short blurb about this article:
Potatoes, potatoes and more potatoes. This is usually what everyone thinks about when they think of food in Ireland. Well, yes! Potatoes are vital, or very important, to peoples’ diets but Irish people eat a variety of other foods as well. The Irish love to eat a huge breakfast to ensure that they are properly prepared for the day, a variety of meats, fresh fruits and vegetables and love they love to drink tea. Just like in American Irish people love to eat fast food, although it is more expensive in Ireland and throughout Europe. Now, you may be asking yourself what are Irish people eating now? Also, what do they eat throughout the ‘cold’ winter months in Ireland? I was wondering the same question and learned that one of the local favorites is a dish that includes potatoes, carrots, pork and onions that is called Coddle. I was very intrigued, or interested, in the name, and was feeling brave, so I decided to make this traditional Irish dinner dish.
Potatoes! That is the first thing most people think of when they think of people eating food in Ireland. Well, this is a staple, or very common and important, food but there are a few other foods and drinks that are common here in Cork. We have all heard the saying, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” but Irish people take the meaning to the next level. Irish breakfasts are very filling and are made up of eggs, either scrambled or fried, sausage or bacon and either toast or some sort of potato dish and a bowl of cereal or oatmeal.
Breakfast in Ireland is large and important because many years, ago when the majority of people still farmed, breakfast was the meal that kept farmers full throughout the day as they did their chores around the farm. Imagine trying to do all of that hard manual labor if you had only eaten a banana for breakfast. I know I would be starving by 10am!
Irish people also love tea. They prefer it over coffee and one of my Irish friends drinks about eight cups of tea a day, the first one being with his breakfast! Throughout the day Irish people take tea breaks, just like we take coffee breaks, but instead of having a doughnut with their tea they love to eat little muffins or scones. A scone is a like a little biscuit that usually has fruit in the middle of it and most of the time is not very sweet.
Meat, such as: chicken, pork, beef, lamb as well as seafood are all very important and can be found in almost every meal. Cork is a very lucky city because they have the ‘English Market,’ which is like a farmer’s market or a big place that has different stations that all sell different foods and merchandise. The English Market sells meats, and all different types of foods, that are all locally grown and harvested. This is a really important thing for many Irish people because then they know exactly where the foods they are eating is coming from. As a result of people knowing where their meat comes from they buy and eat more of it.
Just like in America there are a lot of fast food chains. Cork even has a McDonalds, Burger King and Subway but there are local fast food chains as well. Remember how I said Irish people love potatoes? Their favorite form to eat potatoes is when they are in the form of french fries or chips as they call them here. One of the most popular fast food places to go late at night in Cork is a place called Chipsy Kings (or French Fries Kings). The only thing this little restaurant sells are cups of french fries! Many people eat them with ketchup and mayo onto but a lot of Irish people like to put chili and cheese on top of their fries. I had some the other night and now I can understand why the Irish love them so much. They were delicious!
People in Cork also eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables that they buy from the English Market. There is a wide variety of sellers to chose from in the English Market but they all have about much the same fruits and vegetables. The most common fruits here are apples, bananas, oranges and kiwis. Not too different from the United States, right? People usually eat fruits as part of their lunch or a snack during the day. I usually always have an apple or orange in my backpack for when I get hungry and am away from my apartment.
The most common vegetables are mixed greens, tomatoes, carrots, onions, cucumbers and of course potatoes! Many Irish recipes combine carrots, onions and potatoes as the main vegetables to make dinners. One traditional Irish dish that does this is called Coddle.
What food did I try?:
This week I decided to be adventurous and make a traditional Irish dinner called Coddle. Coddle is a dish that is commonly referred to as comfort food because it is a heavy meal that is served during the winter months therefore bringing comfort to the people who eat it. Coddle is usually connected with Dublin but is made throughout Ireland because it is a very simple meal to prepare and extremely affordable. Coddle is a stew-like dish that is made from potatoes, carrots, onions, rashers (bacon), traditional pork sausage and beef broth seasoned only with salt and pepper. It gets its name because it has to sit and “coddle” or simmer for a long time in the oven until everything has cooked together.
The other reason that I chose to make Coddle is because I have several food allergies and it was easy to modify, or change, so that I could eat it as well. I am allergic to gluten which is a protein that is found in grains such as wheat, oats, barley and almost all processed food. I also am allergic to dairy products and peanuts. I cannot have cows or goats milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream or peanut butter. But there is hope! Many of the foods that I am allergic to have an alternative, or a different option. For example instead of drinking regular milk I usually drink soy or almond milk and eat gluten free breads and pastas. I also love almond butter, which is just like peanut butter but made with almonds. It is quite a challenge to check everything I eat but I would rather do it every time than skip it and get really sick.
Thankfully the only changes that I had to make when cooking the Coddle was to use a separate casserole dish and make sure I did not put the sausage in mine because it contained gluten. I also had to use a special vegetable stock, or broth, instead of using the beef one because that also contained gluten and dairy.
How did I feel when I tried it?:
When I tried my gluten free Coddle I was expecting it to not have a lot of flavor because it only had salt and pepper. However, I was pleasantly surprised as I took my first bite and enjoyed the delicious salty bacon combined with the sweetness of the carrots and the savory texture of the potatoes which were very soft from cooking in the beef broth. It was amazing! All of these tastes actually made me miss home because my mom makes a dish that is very similar to this, so not only is if comfort food for Irish people but also for me. I really liked the dish, even if my version had to be changed slightly to make it gluten free. I would definitely make Coddle again!
I made this dinner with a friend, Lindsey, here is her reaction to trying the ‘regular’ Coddle.
Me: “So how did you feel when you were eating the food”
Lindsey: “I was a little nervous. It didn’t look too good, but it tasted delicious! It was good flavoring even though it was just salt and pepper. It didn’t even need anything else. I LOVED all of the bacon! I would eat it again and I would even make it again when I go home for my family.”
How is the food prepared?:
In the words of Lindsey the food preparation can be summed up in a few words, “Easy, it was easy. If you can cut carrots, potatoes and onions and cook some bacon you are pretty much set.”
List of Ingredients:
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 medium onions, thinly sliced or diced
4 oz piece rashers, salty back bacon
6 fat, traditional pork sausages
2 carrots, peeled and finely sliced
8 oz white potatoes, finely sliced
Salt and pepper
2 cups rich beef stock
Are you ready to learn how to make some delicious Coddle? Okay, let us begin by placing all of the ingredients on the counter. (I separated mine by placing the meats on one side and the vegetables on the other so.) You will need a large skillet, or frying pan, a casserole dish, a measuring cup, a small pot and a tablespoon.
Now, take the potatoes and carrots and wash them with water, peel them and cut away any bad spots. Then cut all the potatoes and carrots into very thin slices. Set them aside until you are ready to put everything into the casserole dish.
Next, turn the oven to 425°F and take the skillet and the vegetable oil and turn the heat to medium. While the oil is heating up, dice up two medium sized onions, I diced them rather small so they would blend better. Once the onions are completely diced, throw them into the skillet and let them brown for about four minutes, make sure to stir occasionally, or every once in awhile. Next measure out two cups of water into the small pot and turn it to high heat and leave it to boil. When it is done boiling, put the beef stock into the water and stir until it is all dissolved.
While the onions are frying dice up the bacon into about one inch cubes. Add the bacon to the onions, turn up the heat and let the bacon fry until it starts to brown, also making sure to stir occasionally. While the bacon is frying cut the sausages in half and once the bacon is almost brown, add the sausages into the skillet. Turn up the heat again, so it is on five or six, and stir constantly, or all the time, the skillet mixture until the sausages are brown.
Now you are ready to combine everything into the casserole dish! Making sure to be very cautious spoon some of the bacon, sausage and onion mixture into the bottom of the casserole dish until the bottom is covered. Then take a handful of potatoes layer them on top until the bottom layer is covered. Now, take the carrots and do layer over the potatoes. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the carrots and begin the process again starting with the bacon, sausage and onion mix. Repeat this until all the ingredients are combined together in the casserole dish.
Next take the beef stock and pour over the whole casserole dish. Sprinkle a little more salt and pepper and place the lid on, we had to use tin foil because we did not have a lid, and place it in the oven. Make sure to place it in the center of the oven rack and let it cook for 45 minutes. Then check to make sure it is not drying out, add a little water if necessary, turn down the heat ton 350°F and let it cook for another 30 minutes until it is bubbling and cooked all the way through. (This step may not seem important but it is vital, or extremely important! I forgot to check my gluten free Coddle and it had bubbled over, therefore loosing some of its juices. When I went to remove it it was stuck to the oven rack and as I was attempting to get it off of the oven rack I had an accident…. it broke right in have and half of the casserole dish fell to the floor shattering! But, I was able to save the other half of the casserole.)Very carefully, using hot pads, remove from the oven and let it sit for 10 minutes before enjoying. Congratulations! You have just made your first ever traditional Irish meal!
Is this food connected to the local environment? How?:
Yes, Coddle is directly connected to the local environment through the ingredients it uses. The potatoes, carrots and onions were all grown and harvested at local farms, as well as the bacon and sausages which came from pigs that were raised on local farms.