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A Toast to Saint Patrick: Cabbage, Radish and Bacon Slaw

(post, Lisa Becker Shea)

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Corned beef and cabbage is the prized meal of Saint Patrick’s Day, a day set aside to celebrate the patron saint of Ireland who escaped slavery at a young age and labored to convert the Irish to Christianity.  While cabbage is a staple of the Irish diet, it has long been served with bacon, not corned beef.   The addition of corned beef traces back to when Irish immigrants entered America and sought what they could actually afford – corned beef.  (Sounds like America’s now controversial efforts to make meat cheaper and more plentiful have roots loosely grounded in the soil of immigration…)

I married into Irish heritage.  This week I am traveling for work, so I can’t tackle the traditional corned beef and cabbage celebratory meal that embraces this holiday.   Nor do I really have any desire to, actually; ability aside.

But over the weekend, my Greensgrow CSA share challenged my inclination (please see the end of this post for additional CSA provisions).  Along with pea greens, yellow onions and applesauce, a head of cabbage wiggled its way into the mix of produce.  I have never cooked or prepared cabbage, and cole slaw seemed like a promising introduction.  But with my strong aversion to mayonnaise, I opted for a different fat source to coat this vegetable – bacon.  Just a little, it’s all you need.

In the end, my toast to Saint Patrick actualized in the form of a cabbage slaw with a kick-back to its original pairing with bacon – the way the Irish intended.

Cabbage, Radish and Bacon Slaw

Please click on hyperlinks for information on local purveyors.


     ¼ cabbage, shredded
     ¼ winter radish, shredded
     4 strips bacon
     2 tsp of butter


   1. Shred cabbage and radish and set aside.
   2. Melt 2 tsp of butter in a sauce pan over medium-low heat.  Add 4 slices of bacon and cook for about 2 minutes on each side.
   3. Once bacon is fully cooked, remove from pan and place on a paper towel or napkin to drain the fat.  The bacon will be soft and crispy.  Keep enough liquid in the pan to coat the bottom.  (Reserve the rest  – bacon fat has many uses.)
   4. In the same pan the bacon was cooked in, add the shredded cabbage and radish.  Cook for about 5 minutes on medium-low heat, tossing frequently to ensure slaw is coated.
   5. Remove vegetables from pan.  Chop bacon and toss with slaw mixture to combine.

In preparation, I worried that this recipe may be a bit dry as I was a bit miserly with the amount of bacon fat I left in the pan (that’s the dietitian in me).  However, the bacon flavor ruminated throughout the vegetables, much stronger than I anticipated.  This slaw is tasty on its own, and, of course, would certainly go well with corned beef.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Greensgrow CSA Share – 3.13.10

     Pea Greens – Blue Moon Acres, Buckingham, PA
     1 ½ lbs organic Yellow Onions – Landisdale Farms, Jonestown, PA
     Organic Green Cabbage– Tuscarora Organics, Hustontown, PA
     Apple Sauce – Three Springs Fruit Farm, Aspers, PA
     Metro Baguette– Metropolitan Bakery, Philadelphia, PA
     Muenster cheese – Hometown Provisions, Willow Street, PA
     ½ gallon of Milk – Maplehofe Dairy, Quarryville, PA
     ½ lb Amish Roll Butter – Hometown Provisions, Willow Street, PA
    * Koch’s Smoked Turkey Breast – Koch’s Turkey Farm, Tamaqua PA (This was the site of Katie Couric’s visit for her controversial series on antibiotics and livestock.)