Do you know why cabbage is so popular on St. Patrick’s Day? It’s a quintessential part of Irish cuisine, along with bacon and potatoes. Tenant farmers in the 17th century were forced to pay substantial rents to their landlords, and relied heavily on their crops of nutrient dense cabbage and calorie dense potatoes, both hardy vegetables, to get them through the year. The more prosperous farmers also grew pigs, so were able to season their vegetables with the parts that weren’t needed to pay off their monthly tariff.
In 1845 the Great Potato Famine hit Ireland, eradicating much of the country’s potato crop, and cabbage became even more critical as a food source. On St. Patrick’s Day, it’s quite customary to eat cabbage in some form. It remains one of the most affordable and durable vegetables around, a reliable source of something green in the colder months, and when paired with its old compatriot bacon, it may be humble but it’s delicious.
Here the bacon is crisped up in a heavy large pot, and then some onions are quickly sautéed in a bit of the remaining pork fat. Then the cabbage is added, along with the beer of your choice, and in 30 minutes you have a dish that may be modest in cost and appearance, but quite grand in flavor.
This would go very well with corned beef, but also with roast chicken, salmon, a steak, pretty much anything. The whiter the cabbage is, the sweeter it is – you can also use savoy cabbage instead of regular, either is fine. Keep the cabbage in the fridge until you are ready to use it.
Like Cabbage? Try These Cabbage Recipes:
- Slow Cooker Fall-Apart Braised Pork with Cabbage and Apples
- Roasted Cabbage Wedges
- One Pot Cod, Cabbage and Edamame
- Spicy Braised Radicchio and Red Cabbage with Citrus
Simple Beer Braised Cabbage
- 6 strips bacon halved
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 cabbage quartered, cored, and thinly sliced
- 1 12-ounce bottle or can of your favorite beer
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Heat a large heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium heat and cook the bacon until crisp, turning as needed, 5 to 6 minutes in all. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels.
- Pour off all but a tablespoon of the fat from the pan, and return to medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes, until golden brown. Add the cabbage and toss occasionally in the pot for 3 or 4 minutes until the cabbage begins to wilt and is well mixed with the onions.
- Pour in the beer and bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Partially cover the pot, lower the heat to medium low, and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is tender and most of the liquid is evaporated.
- Crumble the reserved bacon and stir it into the cabbage. Serve hot or warm.
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