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The MOST Irish Halloween Meal You've Never Heard Of!
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Read Time: 3min
It’s October- outside’s constantly damp and windy, the sky is a rather unattractive shade of grey, and the Irish people have lost all methods of communication apart from grunting about the weather. That means one thing- Halloween’s coming up, and the Irish need something nice to cheer them up. Queue the delicious traditional Halloween dish of Ireland- Colcannon (pronounced kul-cannon), with a deliciously generous serving of Dublin Coddle. They’re as delightful to eat as they are to say!
What is Dublin Coddle?
As with many traditional Irish recipes, the origins of these dishes are somewhat unclear but are interesting nonetheless. Coddle, or Dublin Coddle, as the name suggests, originates in good ole’ Dublin, from at least the 19th century, possibly during famine times. Coddle most likely comes from the French cooking term "caudle" which essentially means to gently boil. And that is exactly what Coddle is- sausage and potato stew! Yum.
There’s no “pure” Coddle recipe (although every Dubliner and his mammy might passionately disagree) as it was essentially just a means of using up meat and any spare vegetables on a Thursday because the poor Roman Catholic Irish weren’t allowed to eat meat on a Friday. But there is generally known to be a standard recipe, which consists of sausage, bacon, potatoes, onion and some form of wild herb. Wild garlic, which grows in abundance in the Irish landscape, may possibly have been used during the spring. Wild thyme or parsley is another tasty option.
What is Colcannon?
Now for the most traditional Irish Halloween recipe, Colcannon. This has a slightly more concrete origin story and is known as the dish that is served on Halloween night, or Samhain (pronounced sah-win) as it was called by the pagan Irish. There is a surviving account of a travelling Welshman in the 18th century where he describes Colcannon and roasted mutton being served on Halloween night. It is another potato dish- the potato was an absolute staple in the Irish diet during this time, having been introduced to the country from South America in around the 1500s, and was a vegetable that is versatile, filling and relatively easy to grow in Irish soil. It is served here mashed with either deliciously sautéed cabbage or kale mixed through with butter, onion and spring onion. Wild chive may also have been added. The name "Colcannon" itself is derived from the Gaelic cál ceannann, which means "head of cabbage". I personally think that's pretty cool.
It is also generally served with some sort of trinket mixed in that is supposed to tell your future like a coin or a rag- those Irish are a superstitious bunch- I myself have many memories of chewing on a 20c wrapped in tin foil found in my Colcannon.
Now relax, you purists. I know coddle is a general winter dish, fiercely loved by the Dubs, and is not exclusively served on Halloween with Colcannon- but that is how my mammy used to serve it. I’ll justify myself no further. On to the recipes!
Irish Stew Recipe
Dublin Coddle Recipe
4 Bacon rashers- must be unsmoked
8 Irish pork sausages, halved if desired
1 litre of chicken or vegetable stock or bone broth (not traditional but lends extra richness)
2 Large rooster potatoes washed, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 Large white onion, chopped to your desired size
1 Large handful of parsley and/or thyme (wild garlic would also be ideal)
Irish grass-fed butter
Salt and pepper to taste (be careful with salt as the pork and butter also contain salt)
1. Dump all ingredients into a pot, cover with water and simmer. Or, if you want to maximise the flavour of the ingredients in your coddle, first sauté the onion gently in lashings of butter.
2. Add in the bacon and continue to sauté. Add in your preferred herb, reserving a little (apparently parsley and thyme were commonly used). I would use wild garlic if seasonal.
3. Add potatoes, stock and pepper, cover tightly with a lid. Simmer gently for around 5-8 minutes until potatoes are ever so slightly softened.
4. Add the sausages and continue to cook for a further 15 minutes or until the potatoes are soft and the sausages are plump, juicy and cooked through. Check for seasoning and add reserved chopped herbs.
5. Ladle into a bowl with a hefty slice of freshly baked Irish soda bread slathered in butter, or on a plate with a generous side of Colcannon.
1 Large rooster potato per person washed, peeled and quartered
1 Half head of seasonal cabbage, shredded or 1 head of kale, shredded
1 Medium white onion, finely chopped
1 Small bunch of scallions/green onions, finely chopped
1 Handful of herb of choice
Irish grass-fed butter, lashings of it
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Barely cover the potatoes in cold water and boil until soft. Sauté the onion with chopped cabbage and/or kale gently in a pan with lashings of butter while potatoes cook.
2. Drain potatoes well, mash finely with a little butter and a dash of milk until you’ve reached your preferred mashed potato texture.
3. Mix the sautéed veg through, season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Stir in the freshly chopped spring onion and optional herbs- wild Irish garlic would be ideal.
5. Eat enthusiastically with a generous helping of Dublin Coddle and then fall into a blissful carb coma- if the illegal fireworks don’t wake you.
The Perfect Irish Halloween Dessert?
What is the perfect traditional Irish dessert to follow such an Irish meal? An cupán táe (a cup of tea) with a slice of Tea Brack of course! (Also served with lashings of butter.) Be sure to check out my authentic Irish Tea Brack recipe.
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