Bacon And Cabbage Orzotto 2

I entered this recipe in the Goodalls Modern Irish Cookbook competition and unfortunately it wasn’t selected so I thought I’d post a version of it here. An orzotto is what’s commonly referred to as a barley risotto and I’d been toying with doing a riff on the Irish classic bacon, cabbage and parsley sauce for a while. I especially like the idea of using a traditional grain such as this in a quite untraditional manner. And using the less refined pot barley rather than pearled seemed more appropriate too regardless of my thinking it tastes better anyway.

For the competition, I’d made some changes by omitting the pressure cooker as it’s not a common kitchen item yet and also giving a recipe for a normal parsley sauce whereas I’d actually used Ultrasperse 3 to thicken the milk rather than roux. The reason is because a roux does not have great flavour release whereas a modified starch like Ultrasperse performs much better in comparison (you also only have to use 2-3g per 100ml for the desired effect). This then meant I was really able to bring the parsley to the fore.

To add another layer of flavour and texture I decided to borrow a trick from a Simon Rogan recipe and include some griddled cabbage: it was a good way of adding a subtle hint of smokiness without having to rely on smoked meat. Something to note too is ham hocks can be quite salty so taste the stock you’re left with to see if it needs to be diluted before cooking the barley.

Serves: 4

For the ham hocks
2 ham hocks
1 pig’s trotter
100g onions, roughly chopped
50g carrots, roughly chopped
50g celery, roughly chopped
5 peppercorns
2 bay leaves

For the parsley sauce
6g Ultrasperse 3
250ml milk
Grated nutmeg, pinch
1 bay leaf
5 peppercorns
25g parsley, finely chopped

For the griddled cabbage
8 small cabbage leaves, halved with inner stem removed

For the barley risotto
50g butter
100g onion, finely chopped
350g pot barley
150ml Irish craft beer (nothing too bitter)
850ml ham hock stock
200g cabbage, shredded
200g ham hock meat, shredded
5g black pepper, ground


  1. Place all the ingredients for the ham hocks into a pressure cooker and cover with water.
  2. Bring to full pressure and cook for 1 hour until and then allow to depressurise naturally.
  3. Remove the ham hocks and then strain the cooking water (through a filter or fine sieve) into a bowl and reserve.
  4. When the ham hocks have cooled down, strip the meat from the bone and reserve.
  5. For the parsley sauce, place the milk, bay leaf, nutmeg and peppercorns in sauce pan and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  6. Strain the milk and whisk in the Ultrasperse 3 until the sauce has thickened.
  7. Stir in the parsley, season to taste and reserve (place some cling film on the surface of the sauce to prevent a skin from forming).
  8. For the griddled cabbage, place a griddle pan over a very high heat for 5 minutes.
  9. Lay the leaves on the pan (in batches if necessary), turning several times to allow charred griddle marks to appear. Reserve.
  10. For the risotto, melt 10g of butter in a wide sauce pan over a low heat.
  11. Add the onion and gently fry until translucent, around 6-7 minutes.
  12. Stir in the barley and coat thoroughly with the butter.
  13. Pour the beer into the pan and raise the heat to high to evaporate some of the alcohol.
  14. When the beer is nearly gone, add the ham hock stock (taste it to see how salty it is and if needs be replace some with plain water).
  15. Simmer for around 50 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the barley is tender.
  16. Stir in the cabbage and cook over a medium heat until it has softened, around 7-8 minutes.
  17. Add the pepper and shredded ham (reserve some for garnish) and cook until heated though.
  18. Stir in the rest of butter until completely incorporated. Correct the seaoning if required.
  19. To serve, divide between four plates and place the griddled cabbage on top of each mound of barley; sprinkle on the reserved ham hock meat and then pour over a very generous helping of the reheated parsley sauce.

2 thoughts on “Bacon And Cabbage Orzotto

  1. Reply John Loydall Sep 24, 2012 8:33 pm

    The meat looks great.. I can imagine getting carried away eating that stuff.

    I recently found a butchers where I asked if they had any trotters.. they said they just chucked them away as they couldn’t sell them! I’ve been back a few times and always take some away with me. I’ve got a freezer shelf full of them so need to use some up.. Will give this a go when I get a chance.

    Definitely feeling this dish – those flavours are making sense to me.

    Good stuff.

    • Reply stefano Sep 24, 2012 9:12 pm

      Yeah, trotters are brilliant and add such body to a sauce; I put the leftover stock in the fridge and it turned to a solid block of jelly and that’s purely down to to the trotter.

      You could always try that famously difficult Pierre Koffman stuffed trotter recipe too!

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