If you’re familiar with our cooking style, you know we like big, bold flavors. When we were bouncing around some fun recipes to make for Saint Patrick’s Day, we kind of skidded right past Corned Beef and Cabbage and landed on the Dublin Coddle, a hearty stew made with potatoes and bangers (Irish sausages to you). It’s deeply savory, with a sauce packed with caramelized onions, smoky bacon and stout ale. Because we are who we are, our version has a few non-traditional ingredients that bring the flavor to another level, without changing the essential rustic nature of the dish.
Considered working class “city food”, Dublin Coddle is exactly what we crave on a chilly night after a long hard day. And like a lot of old world dishes, every house has their own recipe. We found many versions calling for using water or milk in the pot, some Guinness, and others hard apple cider. We chose Guinness, for its sweet, malty flavor. The stock could be chicken, beef, or ham: basically whatever you have will work fine.
While this dish can be made with any good quality sausages, it’s worth it to search out Irish (or British) bangers. Unlike many sausages common in America, the pork in British sausages is very finely ground and the links contain both egg and a cereal called rusk. When seared, the outside will become crispy and tight while the inside stays juicy, tender and very flavorful, even after a long cooking time. (We talk a little more about British vs American sausages in our Dumpling-Flavored Sausage Rolls article).
The type of potato is also important, since the dish is cooked low and slow, a starchy potato like a russet would fall apart. Waxy potatoes hold their shape best in soups and stews, so we recommend you use either red or, our favorite, Yukon Gold. As far as the bacon goes, lean back bacon is traditional but it’s hard to find here so we used regular thick-cut bacon (called streaky bacon in the UK), and loved the smoky flavor it gave the dish. It will release a lot more fat so you’ll probably want to drain most of it out before you cook the sausages.
We also added a few ingredients to give the sauce a richer, fuller flavor: tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce, both packed with umami, as well as a good amount of garlic and some fresh herbs. A few handfuls of chopped Lacinato kale added towards the end of the cooking time adds some freshness, as well as a welcome pop of green. You won’t find these ingredients in a traditional Dublin Coddle, but we’ll rarely make a stew without them.
To make the coddle, start by heating the oven to 300ºF/150ºC and placing a rack in the middle. Cook the bacon in a large (5 to 7 quart) Dutch oven or any heavy oven-safe pot with a lid. Keep the heat moderate, to allow the fat to render and crisp the bacon before it gets too brown. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper-towel lined plate. If there’s a lot of fat in the pot, remove all but a couple of tablespoons. Next, add as many sausages as will fit easily in a single layer. You may need to do this in two batches, but bangers brown quickly, so keep turning them until they’re brown all over, and remove them to a plate. Repeat with the rest of the sausages and set them aside (they won’t be fully cooked at this point). Leave the fat in the pot.
Next add the onions to the pot, along with a pinch of salt (both bacon and sausages are salty, so, this is something we say rarely, but here you can go light on added salt) and a good crack of pepper. Cook the onions, scraping the bottom of the pot to remove any browned bits (fond) on the bottom of the pot. If the fond threatens to burn, add a tablespoon or two of water and scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. You can do this at any point, as needed. Cook the onions, stirring them often, until they soften and turn light golden brown, which will take about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and tomato paste and cook until the garlic is fragrant and the paste turns slightly darker, about 1 minute. Then reduce the heat to low, whisk in the flour and cook for just another minute. Stir in the beer, stock, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaves, thyme and rosemary, and bring the liquid to a simmer. Once it comes to a boil, the flour will cause the sauce to thicken, so stir it well to make sure nothing is stuck to the bottom.
Add the potatoes and sprinkle in the reserved bacon. Cut the sausages in half on a steep angle, and add them to the pot. The liquid should reach about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way to the top of the ingredients. Cover the pot with the lid, place it in the oven and bake for 1 1/2 hours. Remove the lid, stir in the kale and let it cook, uncovered, for 15 to 20 more minutes, until the kale is tender. Taste the sauce for seasoning, and add salt and pepper as needed.
Whatever you put in your pot, coddle is best enjoyed with a pint of Guinness (or your preferred local stout). Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! Sláinte!
Dublin Coddle (Irish Sausage, Potato and Guinness Stew)
- Dutch Oven
- 1/2 pound thick-cut bacon diced
- 1 1/2 pounds Irish sausages (bangers) or other high-quality pork sausage
- 2 large yellow onions diced (about 3 cups)
- Kosher salt to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus more to taste
- 5 large cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup stout-style beer recommended, Guinness
- 2 cups good quality beef, ham, or chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme or rosemary leaves (or a mix) or 1 teaspoon dried
- 2 pounds Yukon Gold or red potatoes peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
- 1 bunch Lacinato or curly kale ribs discarded, leaves roughly chopped
- Preheat the oven to 300°F and set a rack in the middle.
- Add the bacon to a large Dutch oven (or any heavy, oven-safe pot with a tight lid) and turn the heat to medium. Cook, stirring often, until the bacon renders it fat and turns crisp, about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon to drain on paper towels. Remove most of the fat, leaving about 2 tablespoons in the pot.
- Add the sausages in a single layer, being careful not to crowd the pot. Work in batches, if necessary. Cook, turning occasionally, until golden brown all over (sausage won’t be fully cooked at this stage), about 7 minutes. Remove sausages to a plate and set aside. Repeat with remaining sausages, if necessary.
- Add the onions, along with a pinch of kosher salt (the bacon and sausages are both salty) and black pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions turn soft and slightly golden, about 7 to 10 minutes. If the bottom of the pot threatens to burn, add a tablespoon or so of water and scrape the bottom of the pot with the spoon.
- Add the garlic and tomato paste and cook, stirring often, for 1 minute. Reduce the heat to low, whisk in the flour and cook for another minute, whisking constantly. Stir in the beer, stock, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaves and thyme and bring to a simmer.
- Add the potatoes and bacon to the pot. Cut the sausages in half on a steep angle and add them as well. The liquid won’t cover the sausages and that’s fine. Cover the pot with the lid, and bake in the oven for 1 1/2 hours. Remove the pot and stir in the kale. Return the pot to the oven and bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes longer. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.