Friday, February 7, 2014

Irish Chicken and Cabbage

by Sheila Connolly

In honor of the twin events of Saint Bridget’s Day (February 1st) and the release of my second County Cork Mystery, Scandal in Skibbereen (February 4th) this past week, I went hunting for an Irish recipe.

I know what you’re thinking: potatoes and cabbage, boiled, with maybe some butter thrown in. But there’s so much more! Irish cooking has improved immeasurably in the past decade, from country pub to Dublin white tablecloth venues, and now it’s much more interesting.

I found one promising possibility in Margaret M. Johnson’s delightful Irish Pub Cookbook. But of course I had to tinker with it. You know, I hated it when my mother departed from a recipe—I used to whine, “why can’t you just make it like the book says, the first time?” Of course, her idea of tinkering was adding a dash of vermouth. So why do I find myself doing it now? Yup, changing things. No vermouth, though.

The first thing that struck me in reading the recipe was that it called for 5- to 6- ounce bone-in chicken breasts. I do prefer the bone-in type, especially if the dish cooks for a bit, because they’re more flavorful. What stopped me cold was the “5 to 6 ounce” measure.  We buy chicken at our local supermarket and hunt for the smallest breasts possible. I weighed one when I made this dish and it turned out to be 13 ounces. More twice the Irish size. That’s ridiculous. Why can’t we find reasonable-size chickens here?

Anyway, this is a tasty, healthy dish with an Irish flavor.  It’s not quick, but the slow cooking give you a tender and juicy piece of chicken.

Irish Chicken and Cabbage
1/2 cup flour
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 bone-in chicken breast halves, with skin on
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
1 medium onion, thickly sliced
2 bay leaves
1 Tblsp parsley, minced
1 Tblsp fresh rosemary
2 cups shredded cabbage
1-1/2 cups chicken stock (homemade/canned/from a bouillon cube)
And my own little twist—a tablespoon or two of Irish whiskey

Huge, aren't they?
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Mix the flour, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl or pie pan and dredge the chicken pieces in it, shaking off the excess.
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken pieces and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes per side, until lightly browned. Transfer the chicken to a large baking dish or casserole.

Tuck the garlic cloves, carrots, onions and bay leaves around and between the chicken pieces.  Sprinkle with the parsley and rosemary. Lay the cabbage in an even layer on top and season with salt and pepper.

Hmm, the bottle seems
to be empty
Mix the whiskey into the broth and pour the liquid over the chicken and vegetables. Cover the contents of the casserole with foil (press it against the contents to make a fairly close seal), then place the casserole in the oven and cook for 75 to 90 minutes (remember, the heat is low). You can peek once or twice and baste the top with the pan juices if you need to.

To serve, place a piece of chicken on the plate and spoon the vegetables and sauce over it.

And raise a glass to Saint Bridget! (Oh, all right, Saint Patrick if you must, but he’ll get his turn later.)

Tá sé mo leabhar nua.

That means, "this is my new book" in Irish. It's great reading for a miserable winter day--the crumbling manor house, a lost painting, old family secrets, and the final reveal in the drawing room over tea.
Oh, and visit my redesigned website at
And! There are pictures of places that appear in the book here on Pinterest.



  1. Lovely! A cozy mystery and a cozy dish to enjoy on a grey winter day.
    That is a beautiful plate.

  2. Sheila, congrats on the release of another Irish bit of fun and intrigue. I agree with Libby. What a beautiful plate!

    Avery / Daryl

  3. It looks terrific, Sheila. I am looking forward to Scandal in Skibbereen - might make this to celebrate! I have been to Skibbereen and I love being able to return through your series.



    1. One of these days you'll have to tell me why you were in Skibbereen, and I think you mentioned nearby Union Hall as well. Did you stop at the fishmonger's there? I would love to live in Skibbereen--it keeps getting better. Would you believe the antiquarian bookstore actually expanded, rather than shriveling up and going away?

  4. We don't have any Irish Whiskey, or any whiskey. I guess I can't make this dish, yet. It doesn't sound tasty.
    I should get delivery on Scandal in Skibbereen today. I got the first in the series from the library, then couldn't wait to read the next in the series, so I bought it. Can't wait!

  5. I know what you mean about the size of the chicken breasts. Makes you wonder how they managed to walk around with those knockers. (Clearly men have been involved in the breeding. How about getting a "leg-man" in there so they will breed for longer legs?) This looks very inviting on a cold, snowy day. So you cover the casserole with foil but not a pot lid?

    1. The image of a lot of chickens staggering around and falling on their faces is funny but sad--more likely they're cooped up in a small pen. Yes, I could be raising chickens--but then how could I eat my pets? Yes about covering the ingredients but not with a lid. I think it keeps the juices in better. It worked, anyway.

  6. Love the new website, Sheila! This sounds very good for a winter day. We love cabbage around here, so I'm thinking it would be a winner for us. About those huge chicken breasts–do you think it's a special breed of chicken or something they do to make them grow bigger? When I can find Amish chicken, the breasts are normal size and not gigantic . . .


  7. Most likely it's massive hormones. And, yes, the poor girls must walk with a forward tilt!
    Peg, I like your idea of getting a "leg-man" involved. Juicy, tasty thighs.