Colcannon is a classic potato dish in Ireland and perfect for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day on Thursday. Made with potatoes, sautéed kale and/or cabbage, a few green onions, butter and cream, this is definitely a stick-to-your-ribs dish that is perfect for serving alongside an Irish beef stew.
Last week was a laughable mess. I definitely had my fair share of life going on with identity theft, a 36-hour trip to Chicago, what ended up as a 4-hour appointment to Children’s Hospital for Kjell, losing my voice to less than a whisper and someone hitting our parked car on the street in front of our house. I was looking for the luck of the Irish by week’s end. A week that served as the prelude to spring break.
This week, with all four kids bouncing off the walls and begging me to dance a jig for them, I’m chasing leprechauns in hopes of finding their secret stash of gold, but in the midst of it all, I took a minute to sit and be thankful for what I have because none of what happened was near the devastation that was felt in Japan last Friday when the tsunami hit.
I took a moment to talk to my children about what was going on and how it must feel to no longer have a home or a school to go to, and as we went through the usual weekend steps, I was overwhelmed by calm rather than frustration. I boiled potatoes and simmered a pot of stew, and I sat down with my family for a meal before the next week’s beginning and stopped chasing leprechauns and started chasing time again.
Colcannon is a rather traditional Irish dish of mashed potatoes and kale or cabbage. I suppose that at some point it would have been considered pauper food, but I consider it comfort food. It reminds me of meat and potato meals or at least what I dream they should taste like.
First, potatoes. These are the golden variety because I happen to like their texture and thin skin…even though I peeled it off for these purposes.
I had Lene choose our colcannon cabbage and kale at the store while I was trying to convince Magnus that sitting in the cart was a fun thing and simultaneously cradle my infant niece last week in the midst of everything. Excited to have a task that involved produce selection, she went with a flowering kale and a savory cabbage (“…because it’s prettier than the other cabbage ball, Mom”). Fantastic choices, but you can also use whatever variety of kale you would like or have at the ready. I may suggest a Tuscan or Dinosaur kale for its dark green color that makes colcannon appear fun and exciting.
While the potatoes are boiling away in a stockpot with a pinch of salt, chop up your vegetables. Note: You’ll also need a few green onions that made it into the pot but not the picture.
Once the potatoes are tender, drain them and put the pot back on the burner.
Into said pot heat a bit of oil or butter. Tradition says butter, but nutrition (and it is Nutrition Month, after all) says olive oil for this because I’m going to put butter on top anyway. To the heated butter or oil, add your greens and a pinch of salt and sauté until they wilt.
With the burner now off, the green onions and cream make an appearance to get mashed together with the greens and potatoes.
That’s all there is to colcannon, a side dish worthy of St. Patrick’s Day, for sure. I served mine as a bed to rest a Guinness stew in and sat down with my family for a Saturday dinner, cherishing every minute.
When I find the secret timekeeper, I will let him know you’re in need of a few hours a day to sit and stare out the window (and perhaps a housekeeper). That is, if I don’t steal all the grains of sand first myself. I imagine him to be sort of like a leprechaun hiding his hourglass rather than a pot of gold, yet I find time to be much more valuable. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
4 tablespoons olive oil or butter
4 cups cabbage and kale, chopped
6 green onions, diced
1 cup cream or milk
Place potatoes in a large stockpot. Cover with water, and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Heat and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are tender and easily mash with a fork. Drain the potatoes and set aside.
Add the oil or butter to the stockpot and heat over medium-high heat. Add the chopped cabbage and/or kale and sprinkle with salt. Sauté the cabbage for 3 minutes or until wilted. Add in green onions, pour in cream and mash using a potato masher or ricer until most lumps are removed. Serve with a pat of butter or as a bed for a hearty stew.
Makes 6 servings.
Recipe adapted from Simply Recipes because after I purchased my kale and cabbage, Elise posted her very authentic colcannon, which gave me no reason to make any other.