Sunday, March 5, 2017

Jiggs Dinner

This upcoming Sunday, I’ll be helping cook a traditional Newfoundland Jigg’s Dinner for the largest crowd I have ever cooked for to date - alongside my friend Allan, Newfoundlander and fellow foodie.

Allan had approached me earlier last year to see if I would be interested in cooking a Newfoundland themed dinner with him.  We shot around a few ideas, Jigg’s Dinner being one of them, but hadn’t made any solid plans.  Then, Sean McCann, founding member of the Celtic inspired Newfoundland band Great Big Sea contacted me through one of the organizations I volunteer with to inquire about hosting a local show.  It felt like synergy was at work, so Allan and I jumped on the opportunity.

My friend Morgan first introduced me to Newfoundland cuisine couple of years ago, when she hosted Tibb’s Eve (another wonderful Newfoundland tradition). On the menu was salt beef, the star of Jigg’s dinner – and it was incredible to say the least.  She tells me that Jigg’s Dinner is something that her family had every Sunday back home.  It’s a meal that’s usually prepared for large groups of people, because there is always family and company around the table on Sundays. Jigg’s is also intended to create lots of leftovers so it can be fried into hash the next day and served along side fried bologna.

Similar to a New England style boiled dinner, Jiggs is a variation of traditional Irish cuisine.  Jiggs is made with salt meat (pickled fresh meat intended to last throughout winter), typically made with beef navel or short ribs.  The ribs tend to be less fatty, though Allan tells me that for some, the fat is part of the draw.  

Roasted chicken with summer savoury is often served with Jiggs as well, but isn’t always necessary – it’s all about the salt beef.   Other condiments include pickled beets and sweet mustard pickles. A gravy made with browning is something that some people also like to serve as well, though like the chicken, it’s not necessarily included with the dish.

Recipe courtesy of Janice Bearns (or as Allan affectionately refers to as "Mudder"). 

Recipe serves 5-7

- 1 kg (about 2-3 pieces) of salt meat or ribs
 (depends on how many you are cooking for)
- 1 head cabbage, quartered
- 1 medium turnip, peeled and cut into large pieces
- 5 carrots, peeled and quartered
- 2 parsnips, peeled and quartered
- 6-8 potatoes, peeled and quartered
- 1 (225 g bag) split yellow peas for pudding
- dash of pepper


The night before Jiggs, soak the peas in cold water (at least 3 times as much water to peas). You want the peas to soak for a minimum of 8 hours, though no longer than 12. Once the peas have soaked, rinse them, and place peas in a “peas pudding bag” (layered cheesecloth will also work).

Start with a large stock pot.  Drain salt beef, and add beef to stock pot, filling with cold water to halfway. Add peas pudding (in peas pudding bag) to pot, tying it on the side so that it doesn’t touch the bottom of the pot.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium for about 2 hours.  Taste as you go to check the saltiness of the broth. 

After 2 hours, drain half of the broth, and then fill back up again with water and bring back to a boil.  After it comes back to a boil, add carrot and turnip, then boil for about a half hour.  Add cabbage (cut into 4 quarters).  

Bring back to a boil for another half hour, and then add the potatoes.  Boil potatoes for about 30 min then done, also you can drain the water again for saltiness to taste.

The longer you let your salt meat boil before adding the veggies the more tender the beef will be. 


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