Bacon Ribs Recipe – Wholesome Ireland – Irish Food Blog
Bacon ribs don’t seem to be as popular in modern Ireland as they were in my grandfather’s youth. He likes his bacon ribs boiled with cabbage until both are tender, then served with plenty of mashed potatoes with butter. Ribs were much cheaper to buy 80 years ago than they are now, but they’re still a frugal cut of bacon to enjoy at a family meal.
remembers that this dish was made while growing up (Grandpa will be 99 this year, Mom is obviously much younger!). She absolutely detested it, said that the smell of boiling cabbage would remain in the hallway when she got home from school and she would have to eat a mound of slimy and overcooked cabbage because that’s how Grandpa liked it.
I find it very interesting that my husband’s family always ate their bacon ribs in a completely different way. I wonder if mom had been exposed to her rib eating when she was growing up, would she be persuaded to try them today?
My husband loves his bacon ribs boiled until tender, then served with huge pieces of fresh, white bread smeared in golden Irish butter. When she worked at night and still lived with her parents, her mother would simmer the pot when she went to work. In the early hours of the morning I would return home to lift the ribs and use the slabs of soft white bread to clean the salty juices.
Their late dinner/early breakfast was washed down with pints of strong builder tea, sweetened with 2 tablespoons of sugar. I’ve since convinced him it’s sweet enough without the sugar, but this traditional Irish dish is one we still have from time to time. The boys sit around the table and argue about who will get the bigger portion or who will get the last rib. If I get rid of all but a slice of bread, add a fresh salad with a fat-free dressing, then this meal (which would normally be high enough in fat and salt) becomes healthier and more virtuous.
Great pigs make beautiful pork and amazing bacon. There’s an old saying that the only part of a pig you can’t eat is the squeal. We’ve taken that saying seriously by using as much of the pork we raise as possible. This recipe was made with our own bacon ribs, but you can easily buy bacon ribs from your local artisanal butcher. Be sure to ask if the ribs are Irish or not if you care: of the 3 local butchers I asked, only 1 had Irish bacon ribs.
I don’t throw away the salty liquor left over from boiling the bacon ribs. I cool the liquid, then remove the fat before freezing it if I don’t use it right away. The broth is brilliant for adding flavor to a soup, boiling potatoes in your jackets, or cooking vegetables.
While some of the vegetables I’ve used
in salad may seem a little strange, we actually grow and/or raise most of the ingredients I’ve used. Grandpa may not be familiar with them since his youth, but we grow a lot of “unusual” vegetables and fruits on our plot.
Read on to see how I’ve adapted the recipe for cooking/boiling bacon ribs so you can make this dish using the slow cooker.
Note: Kohlrabi is becoming more common in Ireland, in fact, we will grow a lot this year as we have loved eating it during the “hungry gap”. However, it can be hard to find in supermarkets. It’s for this reason that I suggest using a combination of broccoli stem and raw turnip if you can’t find any in stores: it’s a similar flavor profile and a good substitute for kohlrabi.