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Recipe: Coddle, by Jp McMahon

27 February 2020 by
Coddle, by JP McMohan

Coddle, or Dublin coddle to be more precise, is a dish made up of leftover sausages and bacon. Traditionally, the sausages and bacon were cut up and combined with onions and potatoes and left to stew in a light broth.

Though often unappetising to look at, the dish was made famous by several Irish writers, from Jonathan Swift to James Joyce and Seán O'Casey.

Modern versions include barley and carrots. It is essentially a dish that grew out of poverty and famine and then migrated into the working-class areas of Dublin at the beginning of the 20th century to become a dish of central importance to the people who lived there. Often it contained a drop of Guinness (or it was eaten with plenty of pints and soda bread).

It is said that the housewives would prepare the coddle during the day and it would sit on the stove until the men returned home from the pub.

The word itself is derived from the verb "to coddle" or "to cook"(from French "caulder").

With its associations of poverty, it is surprising to find ‘authentic' recipes, especially given the status of the dish as being made with whatever leftovers were to hand (as in pig's trotters/feet, pork ribs, etc).

Some associate it with the Catholic Church's insistence of abstaining from meat on a Friday. Coddle was a way of using up the bacon and sausages on a Thursday.

In this recipe, I fry the ingredients before covering them with the stock, but traditionally they were just layered and simmered until cooked.

Serves 8

  • 2tbs rapeseed oil, plus extra if needed
  • 500g sausages, cut into pieces if preferred
  • 500g streaky bacon, cut into pieces
  • 500g onions, sliced
  • 2tbs thyme, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 1kg (9 medium) potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 4tbs parsley, chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Warm the oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the sausages and bacon and fry for about 10 minutes until they have a nice colour. Remove the meat from the pan and set aside.

Add the sliced onions to the pan and a little more oil if necessary. Reduce the heat and fry for about 10 minutes so that the onions caramelise slowly.

When the onions have a nice colour, return the sausages and bacon to the pan and add the thyme and bay leaves. Cover with the chicken stock and return to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the potatoes. Cook for about 30 minutes.

Add the chopped parsley and plenty of black pepper and serve.

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