Roast bacon with colcannon sauce

Roast bacon with colcannon sauce

Claire says: “There are some meals that you want to eat, simply because they are delicious, comforting, and bring back dimly-remembered memories of childhood, when butter and cream were used liberally, and green vegetables were served because they were readily available, not just because they were healthy or trendy.

This is our interpretation of the traditional Irish dish of mashed potatoes, cabbage or kale, and bacon, where we have retained all the evocative flavours, but refined the presentation, and used the potatoes to make individual potato cakes, serving them with a creamy colcannon sauce flavoured with diced potatoes, wine, fresh greens and leek and served with honey-caramelised, thick slices of the meaty cured bacon.

The knack with perfect mashed potatoes is not to use too waxy a variety – something like a Maris Piper is perfect. We prefer to cut the potatoes into even sized pieces, and to cook these in a steamer: this way they are cooked evenly and don’t absorb too much water. Once they are tender, cover for few minutes with a clean tea towel to absorb more moisture, and don’t overwork the potatoes when you mash – you want a fluffy, not glue-like, consistency. Have the butter at room temperature, so that it absorbs well, and once the other ingredients have been added and the potato cakes formed, leave them to chill, to firm up, before you fry them.

Back bacon can be obtained as a joint from most good supermarkets – or ask your butcher. This is a cured piece of meat, which retains moisture and flavour by again being cooked in a steamer, before being glazed with honey and finishing in the oven.

This is a hearty dish, and will easily serve 4 very hungry people – or of course you can always make smaller portions. Best served warm, with the promise of a long walk to work off the calories!”

 

For the bacon:

1kg whole piece of rindless, unsmoked back bacon

4tbsp runny honey

 

For the potato cakes:

1 leek, thoroughly washed

25g butter

1kg potatoes, scrubbed and peeled

15g/ 1 tbsp. plain flour

2 egg yolks

 

For the colcannon sauce:

50g butter

100g spring greens or kale

100g potatoes, scrubbed, peeled and finely diced

200ml white wine

250ml double cream

 

To finish:

50g unsalted butter

finely chopped chives

 

Method:

  • To prepare the bacon: Place the bacon in a steamer, cover and steam for 45 minutes. Leave to cool.
  • To make the potato cakes: Carefully wash the leek, and finely slice, keeping the green parts for the potato cakes and reserving the white parts for the sauce. Heat the butter in a saucepan, add the leek greens and cook gently until very tender.
  • Chop the potatoes into even-sized pieces and cook in a steamer for 30 minutes or until very tender. Drain well, place back into the saucepan, cover with a clean towel and dry out on the heat for a few minutes. Pass the potatoes through a vegetable mill or mash until smooth.
  • Place the potatoes and leek into a large mixing bowl, add the flour and egg yolks. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Mix well, then mould into 4 patties, place on a tray and chill until ready to cook.
  • For the colcannon sauce: Wash and finely slice the spring greens into ribbons. Melt 35g of the butter in a saucepan, add the greens and the sliced white leek, stir well, season with salt and black pepper and cook gently for 3 minutes. Add the diced potato and cook for a further 5 minutes, then add the white wine, reduce the liquid by half, then add the cream and reduce again. Taste and season. Just before serving whisk in the remaining 15g of the butter.
  • To finish: Preheat the oven to 220ºC, gas mark 7. Divide the bacon into four pieces, lay on a baking sheet and brush with the honey. Roast for 10-15 minutes, basting halfway through the cooking time.
  • Fry the potato cakes in the 50g unsalted butter, turning carefully with a spatula until golden and heated through. Keep warm. Serve the bacon with the potato cakes and the warm sauce, garnishing with the chives.