From the misty green fields of Ireland to the windswept bluegrass of Kentucky, we're all a wee bit Irish on St. Patrick's Day. Carpe deum. When Lexington rolls out the green carpet to celebrate the patron saint of Ireland, there's something Irish for just about everyone in every restaurant, on every corner, and in every bar throughout town. Green beer, Guinness Stout, and Irish whiskey flows freely from indoor, outdoor, and curbside bars. Whether strictly authentic or riffs on authenticity, Irish fare stands front and center. Variations of Shepherd's Pie, Colcannon, Lamb Stew, Corned Beef and Cabbage, Irish Stew, Boxty, and Guinness-infused anything are plentiful. Fancy a parade? Grab a drink and stake claim to a curb on Main Street to soak in the familiar sound of bagpipes echoing through the downtown buildings to usher in the throngs of Irish dancers, horses, cars, and clowns happily meandering down Main Street. Go ahead, raise a glass, kiss the Blarney Stone, or forage for clovers. Eat, drink, and be merry. When the frivolity wanes, the festivities ebb, the parade passes by, and it's time to retreat, cuddle up with a comforting bowl of Dublin Coddle.
Dublin coddle, in its purist form, is a humble Irish stew containing only chopped potatoes, sliced onions, Irish pork sausages, bacon (rashers) and parsley layered in a pot with enough stock or water to cover and left to simmer (coddle) low and slow for 2 to 4 hours. Variations (considered sacrilege by some folks) might include carrots, parsnips, or pearl barley. Staying true to the spirit of a traditional Dublin Coddle, I brought the Emerald Isle to the bluegrass with the local flavors of Kentucky.
After drizzling 1/4 cup vegetable oil into the bottom of a cast iron dutch oven set over medium heat, I fried 1/2 pound sliced Foothills Meats fresh bacon for 5-6 minutes until crisped before scooping the pieces out onto paper towels to drain. While the oil was still sizzling hot, I placed 1 1/2 pounds Stonecross Farm pork sausages into the pot and let them rip, turning occasionally, until they were deeply caramelized on all sides.
After removing the sausages to drain, I tumbled 10 peeled whole shallots into the steaming pork fat. When the shallots softened and started to brown, I added 4 whole (peeled and smashed) garlic cloves along with 2 sliced leeks. Just before the leeks took on color, I deglazed the pot with 3/4 cup Kentucky Ale Bourbon Barrel Stout and let it reduce by half before pulling it from the heat.
Off the heat, I scattered 5 sliced carrots over the shallots followed by a layer of chopped yukon gold potatoes, chopped Casey County white sweet potatoes, salt, pepper, and minced fresh parsley. After nestling the sausages into the potatoes, I showered them with additional parsley and topped everything off with overlapping 1/2" thick sliced potatoes.
After adding enough chicken stock to cover the sausages, (about 2 1/2 cups), I brought the stock to a boil, reduced it to a simmer, covered the pot, and slid it into a low preheated 325 degree oven to coddle in its juices for 2 1/2 hours.
I pulled the stew from the oven and brushed the top layer of potatoes with melted unsalted butter. After spooning the tender pork sausages and softened sweet vegetables over seasoned plumped pearl barley, I finished with the unctuous drinkable broth, Celtic grey
sea salt, cracked black pepper, and fresh parsley.