Coddling the cold

January 6, 2008 · 1 comment

About ten years ago, I was just starting grad school and had moved to Knoxville, Tennessee. I packed with my belongings a book that was all about altering your diet based on your blood type. I had just begun my foray into healthy eating (new life, new state, new food, etc.), and the book was recommended by a respected (and somewhat eccentric) friend. The general idea was intriguing; and while it’s been ten years since reading it, I recall the premise being that your blood type was indicative of your genealogical origins, and your body therefore responds to food the way your ancestors used it. I am an O+, and I remember something about Europeans of yore, and eating lots of meat, but avoiding dairy and wheat (unless it had been sprouted). I was hard-core for a while, but soon lost steam, though several of the ideas stuck with me (I still believe I’m much better off when avoiding cow’s milk).

I think of that book when the weather turns cold. I may have grown up and still reside in the deep south, but something in my genes absolutely loves the cold. I’m fully convinced that my ancestors wore lots of wool, spent much time in front of fires, drank their weight in tea and ate gallons of soup. And even being a very cold-natured person — so much so that even when we’re sitting in front of the fire at night, and I’ve got my cup of hot tea cradled in both hands, I still sometimes bring out my electric blanket to put over my legs and feet on the couch — I somehow relish it. It’s been cold this week; most mornings I bundled myself and the kids up and walked outside into an 18º chill. And I’m thinking, FINALLY. It’s winter.

I wrote a post a while back about how much I love my crock pot. One of the first things I made when I got it a few Christmases ago was from a book called The Gourmet Slow Cooker. The recipe is for Dublin Coddle, a simple but wonderfully comforting dish calling for layers of sausage, bacon, potatoes, carrots, and onions. I inadvertently began making this dish yearly in the month of January. I seems almost like New Year’s Day food, though I can’t put my finger on why (no greens, no cabbage, no ham… what gives?). It might be simply that it just doesn’t really get cold in the south until January. And coddle is for the cold. Tim loves this dish — I suppose his Dutch ancestors weren’t exactly basking in the sun while sipping rum drinks, either.

I don’t know about where you are, but here in Athens it’s about 60º today. Too warm for coddle. But when the next cold spell hits, be ready with coddle, a good loaf of dinner bread, and your beer of choice. The recipe, adapted from The Gourmet Slow Cooker, by Lynn Alley (this version is for a dutch oven rather than slow-cooker; I found it to be surprisingly easier, and the textures better that way):

Dublin Coddle

  • 6 slices bacon
  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh pork sausage (6-8 links)
  • 2 medium-sized yellow onions, sliced
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup hard cider, beer, or chicken stock (beer or cider tastes best!)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper

Heat a dutch oven or stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and fry until crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain.

Add sausages and cook, turning, until nicely browned on all sides. Transfer to a plate.

Pour off all but about 2 Tbsp of the fat in the pan. Add the onions and sauté until lightly browned.

Remove half the onions from the pan, and spread the remaining half over the bottom. Sprinkle the onions in the pan with salt and pepper. Place half of the potato slices in a layer on top of the onions, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Lay the strips of bacon over the potatoes. Lay the sausages over the bacon. Spread the carrots over the sausages. Spread the remaining onions over the carrots, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with the remaining potatoes, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Add the beer, cider, or stock. Cover and cook over low heat for about half an hour, or until the potatoes and carrots are very tender. Sprinkle with parsley, and serve.

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