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Orkney pork & kale

This is no dish from the contemporary kale craze, far from it; kale is among the oldest Orkney crops, cultivated at least since the seventeenth century, and the traditional preparation uses pickled or salt rather than fresh pork. Its simplicity belies its appeal, in that respect much the same as Dublin coddle or Irish stew. Four servings.

  • pigs-and-cattle005.gifabout ¼ lb salt or pickled pork (best) or a Tablespoon lard or butter (see the Notes)
  • 1 lb pork shoulder
  • a small Savoy cabbage, cored and sliced
  • about 1 lb potatoes, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
  • whole blck peppercorns
  • dill seed
  • salt
  • pork stock or water



  1. Line the bottom of a heavy pot with salt or pickled pork or smear it with the lard or butter.
  2. Layer the meat, cabbage and potato in turn in the pot, and top the three ingredients with a little salt, a few peppercorns and some of the dill.
  3. Repeat the process until everything has gone into the pot, making sure to end with a layer of potato.
  4. Add enough of the stock or water to rise about halfway up the stew, bring it to a boil, then cover the pot and reduce the heat to the merest simmer for about 1½ hours.
  5. Check the pot at intervals to ensure that the liquid does not boil off.


-The dish is called pork and kale but the recipe specifies cabbage and no kale. That is because in the context of this name, ‘kale’ refers to pretty much anything green and cabbage traditionally found its way more than the other options for this dish.

-It is not, according to Annette Hope, a dish found anywhere else in Britain. She thinks “it quite likely that it is a variant of Far I Kal, the traditional Norwegian ‘mutton in cabbage’ which shares the same seasonings of peppercorn and dill with Orkney pork and kale.

-Do not attempt to replicate the historic flavor of pork and kale by using supermarket salt pork instead of fresh as the main meaty component; it is far fattier and saltier that the pickled pork of the past.

-Pickled pork is scare outside Louisiana; several brands are available online from