“It’s like Marmite,” said one of the judges, “people either love it or hate it.”
Coddle, that is. Rare ould Dublin coddle. And the judges in question – myself, food and wine writer Leslie Williams and Sunday Business Post editor Gillian Nelis – had been called upon to adjudicate at what was surely a rare ould Dublin event: a Coddle Cook Off.
For those who don’t yet know enough about the dish to either love or hate it, coddle is a one-pot, throw-it-together wonder. Sausages, rashers, onions and spuds, left to simmer together on the stove for hours of a Saturday evening, becoming post-pub grub for the household’s imbibers. Perhaps it’s the idea – and the anaemic look – of boiled sausages that puts people off coddle. Why boil when you can sear and sizzle, eh? And yet, as the entries in last week’s coddle competition in Temple Bar showed, a brothy boiled sausage is no bad thing.
The competition – which raised €1000 for Epilepsy Ireland – was the brainchild of Kevin O’Toole of Chameleon and Pádraic Óg Gallagher of Gallagher’s Boxty House, and was held in conjunction with the inaugural Temple Bar Taste Trail – where punters could sample bites from any one of 10 Temple Bar restaurants – during the Temple Bar TradFest.
There’s no use messin’ with coddle – coddle is coddle
The coddle contenders – prepared by chefs from 9 different Temple Bar establishments – ranged from the utterly traditional to the ultra modern: it was variously deconstructed, reconstructed, and featured a great many more pig parts than usual. In an unexpected blast from Ireland’s culinary past, John Howard – he of legendary Dublin restaurant Le Coq Hardi, frequented by the great and, some would say, not so good back in the day – was drafted in by the Oliver St. John Gogarty team: “There’s no use messin’ with coddle,” he told us judges as we sampled his classic rendition, “coddle is coddle” (which, he also told us, means no carrots, if you please). Seemed clear that there was no use messin’ with John Howard either.
In the end, it was the prettily plated and generally cheffed up version of the dish presented by The Larder – complete with its topping of crispy pigs ears – that claimed the inaugural Masters of Coddle cup. But what was perhaps surprising – but perhaps not, to the coddle lovers out there – was that the traditional entries more than held their own, proving that, with good sausages and bacon, and a few good spuds, coddle is a winner every time.
To see how traditional coddle is made, watch Pádraic Óg Gallagher in action below.
Dear spud, I’ll agree with Mr. Howard on old traditional dishes, enjoyed the video, and would say that slowly simmering pork and potatoes would feel good right about now here in a snowy Boston,
Thanks Brian – glad you enjoyed that and keep warm!
Sheep Camp Potatoes!
In the early 1960s, my sister and I were visiting our maternal grandparents when my grandmother was called away and my grandfather was left in charge of us. The only thing he knew how to cook was Sheep Camp Potatoes, which was a staple in his youth when he worked as a sheepherder for Irish sheep ranchers in eastern Oregon. It consisted of bacon, cut-up potatoes and onions, and salt and pepper all covered with water and simmered until the potatoes were done. We were delighted with it, since my grandmother was a Seventh-day Adventist and never cooked pork, and our mother, although not SDA, rarely cooked it. We were allowed to have pork in restaurants but of course were never saw anything called Sheep Camp Potatoes in restaurants (or coddle for that matter).
My dad knew about it, his family being among the aforementioned Irish sheep ranchers, but it had never occurred to him to make it at home or else he was burned out on it. My sister and I still love it and usually add a green vegetable to make it a complete meal.
Thank you so much for that Cathlin – love it! Yet another potato dish for the repertoire.