1 1/2 lb ( 750gr ) slab of lean bacon
a few parsley stalks
6 black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
4 potatoes, cut into large chunks
4 carrots, thickly sliced
4 celery stalks, thickly sliced
chopped parsley to garnish
3 tbs butter
1/3 cup ( 45gr ) all-purpose flour
1 scant cup ( 200 ml ) milk
3/4 cup ( 90 gr ) grated aged Cheddar cheese
salt and black pepper
Put the bacon into a large pan, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil. Drain, rinse, and cover with fresh cold water. Add the parsley stalks, peppercorns, and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer very gently for 45 minutes.
Add the potatoes, carrots, and celery and bring back to a boil. Cover and simmer very gently for 20 minutes or until the meat and vegetables are tender. Drain, reserving the cooking liquid, and allow the bacon to cool slightly.
Remove all of the rind and fat from the bacon, cut the meat into bite-sized pieces, and arrange in a shallow oven proof dish with the vegetables. Keep warm.
Make the cheese sauce:
Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and gradually blend in the milk and 1 cup of the reserved cooking liquid. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens. Simmer for 3 minutes. Add 3/4 of the cheese and salt and pepper to taste.
Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake in a 350F ( 180C )oven for 30 minutes, or until the cheese is heated through and bubbling. Garnish with the chopped parsley before serving.