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Colcannon

Updated July 28, 2016
This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

In speaking of this most celebrated of Irish potato dishes, musician Mick Bolger—whose Denver-based contemporary Celtic band is called Colcannon—notes that it has a “wonderful affinity” for corned beef and cabbage. And he confesses that he has also eaten it “with filet mignon and port sauce; with rashers [bacon], tomatoes, and kidneys-in-their-jackets at 4 A.M.; and—God forgive me—wrapped in a tortilla, micro-waved, and eaten, over the sink, with salsa.” It is, in other words, a versatile creation. It is also one that exists in numerous variations, depending on the season, the region of the country, and of course personal taste. It is often made with just butter, milk, and kale, but scholar P. W. Joyce defines “caulcannon” as “potatoes mashed with butter and milk, with chopped up cabbage and pot-herbs.” Mary Ward, when she makes colcannon at her house in Nenagh, County Tipperary, starts with a trip to the kitchen garden, armed with a basket and a pair of shears. This is her recipe.

Serves4 to 8

CostInexpensive

Kid FriendlyYes

OccasionBuffet, Casual Dinner Party

Recipe CourseSide Dish, Starch

Dietary ConsiderationEgg-free, Gluten-free, Halal, Kosher, Peanut Free, Soy Free, Tree Nut Free, Vegetarian

MealDinner

MoodBlue

Taste and TextureButtery, Creamy

Type of DishVegetable

Ingredients

  • 2 to 2½ lb/1 to 1.25 kg russet or other floury potatoes (5 or 6)
  • 6 to 8 tbsp butter
  • 2 to 3 lightly packed cups/400 to 800 g chopped kale or assorted chopped greens (such as kale, parsley, sorrel, spinach, and/ or broccoli or cauliflower leaves)
  • 1 1/3 cups/320 ml milk
  • 4 scallions, green part only, minced
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Put the potatoes into a large pot, with the larger ones on the bottom, and add water to come halfway up the potatoes. Cover the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. When the water begins to boil, carefully drain off about half of it, then return the pot to the heat, cover it again, reduce the heat to low, and let the potatoes steam for about 40 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover the potatoes with a clean, damp tea towel, and let sit for 5 minutes more.

  2. Melt 4 Tbsp of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the kale or assorted greens and cook until just wilted, about 5 minutes.

  3. Combine the milk, scallions, and remaining butter in a medium pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook for about 2 minutes, then add the greens and stir in well. Remove the pot from the heat, cover, and set aside.

  4. Drain and carefully peel the potatoes, then return them to the pot. Add the greens and their liquid and mash until smooth, leaving a few small lumps in the potatoes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

  5. To serve in the traditional Irish manner, push the back of a large soup spoon down in the middle of each portion to make a crater, then put a large pat of room-temperature butter into each one to make a “lake.” Diners dip each forkful of colcannon into the butter until its walls are breached.

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Colcannon is delicious. I have an easy recipe that is really good and fast to make. I don't measure, so use your tastes and experience as your guide. In a large, wide bottom pot, place green cabbage that has been sliced thin and rinsed. Add chicken broth to come about half way up or so, along with powdered onion, powdered garlic, some caraway seeds, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer. Cover and cook until soft, 5 to 10 min? Check with a fork until cabbage is the consistency you like. I like it soft. Don't allow all of the broth to cook out. You want some broth in the pan for favor. Add more broth or water if it it gets too dry. Remove from heat. Stir in butter, some milk and dried potatoes in the box. Stir and adjust liquids, potatoes and seasonings to your taste. Eat as is or! Grate over the top, smoked cheddar cheese. It is wonderful. At times I have added liquid smoke, just a few drops, to the chicken broth if I have no smoked cheese. Delicious with or without the smoked element. I like this with ham and rye bread with butter. You could add sautéed sliced apples as a side, too.

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