I first learned about Coddle from a movie. Somehow, no matter how hard I try, I can't remember which movie, all I remember is that the main character was served coddle when he went home to visit his family in Ireland. In the movie, they make it look like the most unappetizing thing in the world. I remember feeling sorry for the main character as he choked it down (and clearly, nothing else about the movie - it's always about food with me). Despite this unfavorable depiction, coddle piqued my interest. When I googled it, I found that it’s an Irish dish made to use up leftovers and therefore, without a specific recipe. Leftovers? No recipe? Yes please. Rummaging around my kitchen I discovered a small piece of bacon leftover from one my father-in-law brought over earlier in the week, some sausages leftover from an Irish breakfast, a few yellow potatoes, some lingering root veggies in the fridge and some homemade chicken stock that I was defrosting for Eve, whose babysitter swears by it and insists I bring her some to feed the baby each week. So everything (and more) required for a good coddle.
The name comes from the verb “coddle” which means to cook food in water below boiling, like coddled eggs. Historically, the dish was often made on Thursdays to use up leftover sausages and bacon because Catholics were not supposed to eat meat on Fridays. Traditional Irish or Dublin Coddle does not contain carrots, garlic or cabbage and is made with water instead of stock. After reading a few different recipes I came up with the version below, which allowed me to use up a bunch of our leftovers. I’m not in a position to make any claims as to its authenticity (since I’ve never had coddle before), but I can tell you that it was comfort food at its best.
Once the coddle was done, I left it covered on the stove top while I put a loaf of brown bread, made from this mix in the oven. About 35 minutes later, we enjoyed some coddle with warm bread and butter. Perfect for a chilly fall day and even more so, I can imagine, for a snowy winter one.
1lb yellow potatoes, chopped into small pieces
1 lb Irish sausages (Winston’s, I always have them in the freezer)
6-8oz Irish bacon, courtesy of my father-in-law, chopped into small pieces
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
½ small head of cabbage
3-4 cups chicken stock
Chopped parsley to serve
Pre-heat oven to 300F. Prep vegetables and bacon. Place a large dutch oven on the stovetop and heat to medium high. Add sausages and cook until browned on all sides (they don't need to be cooked through as they will cook much longer in the oven).
Remove and set aside. Add onion, garlic and bacon and cook until bacon begins to brown. Set aside with sausages.
Turn heat up to high and add ⅓ cup chicken stock, scraping up brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
Once stock is reduced and there is very little liquid remaining in the pan, turn the heat off and spread the potatoes in a layer on the bottom of the pan. Season with salt and pepper.
Add carrots and cabbage in another layer, followed by the onion, bacon and sausages on top.
Pour remaining chicken stock over the ingredients in the pan and place in the oven for two hours.
Check the liquid level in one hour and add more if the coddle seems dry. For reference, after the first hour, the liquid in mine reached the level of the cabbage and carrots but not the sausages and bacon. This was a good amount. After 2 hours the liquid was at the same level as the sausages and bacon (the meat was not submerged but there was plenty of liquid). I thought this was the perfect amount.
After two hours, check to make sure potatoes and carrots are cooked through, garnish with chopped parsley and serve.
Eat, little person putting together a puzzle in the background optional.