Stew and soups are the comfort foods mostly associated with winter and early spring. Those bowls of liquid goodness filled with piping hot liquids warm the soul as well as the body on a cold blustery day. And Irish Coddle is one of these tasty stews that should be in the repertoire of any home cook.
This rustic fare has been served in Dublin and the center of Ireland since at least the 1600s. Usually accompanied with simple soda bread to round out the stew and fill the stomach, this rustic dish packs in the protein and fat needed in cold weather, and for a folk who weren’t… errr… as “coddled” as we are nowadays.
But in all seriousness, the sausages in this hearty meal weren’t overprotected as children. The word “coddle” in the name refers to a process of simmering or cooking just below the boiling point, and it’s more commonly associated with eggs.
Bacon, sausage, and red potatoes fill out this dish with bottle of stout beer added to pack in a few more carbs (bread in a bottle, and all).
So, you may not want to eat this tasty dish as an everyday meal, but once in a while won’t hurt anything. Especially if you’re preparing an authentic Irish meal for St. Patrick’s day.
And paired with a green leafy salad and a bit of fruit, a smaller portion of this splurge-worthy stew is a great way to serve up those fats that we need to help absorb the nutrients in the greens, alongside your daily dose of protein and carbs.
A big bowlful of this stew is like the culinary version of a warm hug, and is best served on a lazy Sunday with time set aside for a nap afterwards. Heaven on Earth.
And it’s not difficult to make, with just a quick boil on the stove followed by 45 minutes to braise in the oven. It can also be made in a slow cooker by dumping in the ingredients and allowing the pot to brew for 4 to 6 hours on low.Print
Irish stick-to-your-ribs comfort food made with sausage, bacon, red potatoes, and topped off with a bottle of Guinness.
- 12 ounces center cut bacon, divided into thirds
- 1 pound pork sausage
- 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley (or 3-5 sprigs fresh)
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme (or 3-5 sprigs fresh)
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 cups chicken broth (mine was homemade)
- 12 ounces Guinness or other stout beer (one standard bottle)
- 2 pounds red potatoes, cut into large chunks (about 6 large potatoes or 20 “petite”)
- 1 large leek, thinly sliced
- Cook bacon in a large skillet until the edges are just beginning to turn brown. Remove from pan and let drain on paper towels. Reserve fat.
- Cook sausage in the same skillet, adding the reserved bacon fat if needed to prevent sticking. (If using a breakfast sausage, break into pieces using your fingers before placing into the pan. If using a sausage that is in large links, keep intact, then slice after cooking or while it is is still frying.) Remove from skillet and set aside.
- Place onions in skillet. Cook until lightly browned and softened, about 6-8 minutes.
- Layer cooked onions in the bottom of a large oven-proof skillet or Dutch oven. Place bacon on top of onions, and sausage on top of bacon.
- Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper to taste. Add minced garlic, parsley, thyme, and bay leaf.
- Pour in chicken broth and the bottle of stout beer.
- Spread potatoes and leeks evenly over the top.
- Preheat oven to 300°F. Cover and place pan on stove over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.
- Place covered pan into preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes.
- Add salt to taste.
- Serve warm, ladled into bowls.
Adapted from Uncle Jerry’s Kitchen.
Cooking by the Numbers…
Step 1 – Prep
Start by cutting the yellow onion in half, then thinly slice it into half-rounds with a sharp chef’s knife.
After cleaning it well to get rid of any grit, trim and cut up the white and light green parts of the leek into thinly sliced half rounds. Discard the green tops.
Wash the potatoes and drain well in a colander. Chunk up into bite-sized pieces.
I used petite potatoes here, and they will have more skin left intact than their full-sized brethren would (more roughage!) and I wanted to show off that beautiful red skin. You could use any potato you have on hand really, but reds will have a less starchy taste most others.
Mince the garlic cloves or crush them with the flat side of a chef’s knife.
Cut the center-cut bacon into thirds. You can use any bacon you like, but most center cuts are a bit more meaty and have less fat. If you use regular bacon instead, cut it into 1 1/2- to 2-inch pieces.
Step 2 – Mise en Place
Measure out the remainder of the ingredients and place them all in one central spot on your counter or table, so you can reach them easily.
Step 3 – Fry Up the Bacon, Sausage, and Onions
Don’t overcook the bacon. We want to render enough of the fat out so the stew doesn’t become a lard bucket, but we want to leave a smidgen in there for taste. Fat equals flavor (within limits).
Once you’ve gotten your bacon cooked to an acceptable level, remove and set aside to drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Place your sausage links in the pan and brown on all sides. Chop up the links into bite-sized pieces with a metal turner.
Once your sausage is fully cooked, remove and set aside to drain. Add the onions to the pan and cook over medium heat for about 6 minutes, occasionally flipping and stirring them. Remove from the pan after they’ve softened.
Step 4 – Layer the Ingredients into a Dutch Oven
After all of the bacon, sausage, and onions are fried, layer them into the the Dutch oven starting with the onions, then bacon, then sausage.
Pour in your beer. I used Guinness but you can use other brands like Murphy’s or one of the newer hipster craft brands.
Layer in your potato chunks and leeks and you are all set.
Step 5 – Boil and Braise
Preheat your oven to 300°F. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil on the stovetop. Transfer to the oven and allow to braise for an additional 45 minutes.
Step 6 – Serve and Smile
Taste for seasoning, and remove the bay leaves and thyme. Serve hot with some large chunks of soda bread, or even plain white.
What about you? Have you tried an Irish Coddle Stew? Is it not the perfect comfort food? Let us know in the comments below.
Like cooking with stout beer? Don’t forget to check out these other tasty recipes:
- Slow Cooker Beef and Vegetable Stew with Guinness Stout
- Guinness Stout Chocolate Cupcakes with Baileys Buttercream Frosting
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Photos by Mike Quinn, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details.
*Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Mike Quinn
Mike Quinn spent 20 years in the US Army and traveled extensively all over the world. As part of his military service, Mike sampled coffee and tea from all virtually every geographic region, from the beans from the plantation of an El Salvadorian Army Colonel to "Chi" in Iraq to Turkish Coffee in the Turkish Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. He spent nearly a decade in the Republic of Korea where he was exposed to all forms of traditional teas. Mike formerly owned and operated Cup And Brew, an online espresso and coffee equipment retail operation.