750 mldry apple cider60 ml (¼ cup)cider vinegar80 gmbrown sugar2fresh bay leaves1 kg piecemiddle bacon18golden shallots, halved lengthwaysRumbledethumps1 kgmashing potatoes, such as sebago, coarsely chopped120 gmbutter, coarsely chopped, plus extra, melted, for brushing250 gmSavoy cabbage, thinly sliced80 ml (⅓ cup)pouring cream¼ cupfinely chopped chives200 gmvintage cheddar, coarsely grated
Stir cider, vinegar, sugar and bay leaves in a saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves, then bring to the boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer until reduced to 500ml (20-25 minutes). Season to taste and cool to room temperature.
Place bacon in a small roasting pan, pour over cider mixture, cover and refrigerate overnight to marinate, turning occasionally.
Preheat oven to 200C. Add shallot to roasting pan, cover with foil and roast for 30 minutes. Remove foil, increase heat to 220C and cook, basting frequently and turning bacon halfway through cooking, until bacon is golden and tender (45 minutes-1 hour). Remove bacon from pan and thickly slice.
Meanwhile, for rumbledethumps, combine potato and cold salted water to cover in a large saucepan, bring to the boil over medium-high heat and cook until tender (20-25 minutes). Drain potato well and return to pan. Melt 50gm butter in a frying pan over medium heat, add cabbage, season to taste and stir occasionally until just wilted (2-3 minutes). Add to potato with cream and remaining butter and mash with a potato masher to combine. Season to taste, stir in chives and 180gm cheese, then spoon into a buttered shallow ovenproof baking dish. Scatter with remaining cheese, cover and bake for 15 minutes. Remove lid, bake until golden and bubbling (5-10 minutes), then serve hot with sliced bacon and shallots, with cider braising liquid spooned over.
This recipe is from the June 2012 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.