4 December 2011

Dublin Coddle...

My father was the better cook in our family when I was growing up. Far better than my mother which was highly unusual when you consider I am talking about Dublin in the 1960's, a time when gender roles dictated that women should be queens of the hob and oven and males were expected to keep a respectful distance from the kitchen. The only problem was my mother could by no stretch of the imagination be considered a kitchen goddess. I don't think even now she would be offended if I told you she couldn't really cook at all! In her defence she always protested that "I have to cook every day, your father only cooks when he wants to" Maybe so but of course it's my father's recipes that have stuck in my mind and by making them he also unwittingly impressed on his only son's young mind that there was nothing unusual about a man in the kitchen wearing an apron in front of the gas stove, thereby inadvertently paving the way in me for an early interest in preparing and cooking food. 

Some of my hazy early memories of his food are pretty bizarre for instance I can still remember vividly the stomach churning smell of his cow's tripe boiled in milk which always resulted in the house being evacuated rapidly by my mother and me every time he cooked it, and another peculiar spaghetti dish which involved baking cooked spaghetti in a ceramic casserole dish topped with tomatoes and hard boiled eggs. Pasta was avant guarde for the time, but perhaps the best of all was a dish he liked a lot and often graced the table called Dublin Coddle. It is a well known dish in Ireland and like much of Irish cuisine coddle stems from a peasant origin and makes use of cheaper and left over cuts of meat and offal. As I remember it was basically a concoction of offal boiled in milk. I have googled this recipe recently but no version that I have found remotely resembles how I can recall he made it, for instance some drop the milk altogether and many call for fresh garlic (an ingredient which with the possible exception of a small jar of garlic salt for sprinkling on sirloin steak was totally absent from our larder) so I  have put together my own version based on what I can recall. I don't really expect anyone to try to cook this but it is interesting to see how much recipes, tastes, techniques and ingredients have changed over the intervening decades. 

Dublin Coddle 

8 pork sausages
4 lambs kidneys halved and white sinues removed. 
8 streaky rashers rolled up 
Several small onions 
Button mushrooms 
3 or 4 potatoes chopped into cubes 
1 litre of whole milk 
1 tsp of cornflour diluted in milk 
Salt and While pepper to season 

Place the first 6 ingredients in a large saucepan or casserole dish and cover with the milk. Bring to the boil slowly taking care the milk does not boil over. Cover and simmer for 20 to 30 mins or until you are satisfied each element is cooked and tender. Once you are happy this is the case skim off any skin from the milk and add the cornflour and stir to thicken. You may need to adjust the amount of sauce to meat. Season to taste. 

You will note that this recipe relies on the white pepper for "kick" as I have mentioned garlic was not really used and chillies were out of the question (even black pepper was unheard of so the hottest thing we had at our disposal was white pepper which is something I've started using again in my cooking). You can easily google an up-to-date version of this recipe which is probably more suitable to our present day palate. 

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