Colcannon

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Have you ever had colcannon? A St. Patrick’s day favorite, it’s a mixture of creamy mashed potatoes and usually kale or cabbage.

I first encountered colcannon while doing research on traditional Irish cooking. Not surprisingly the Irish have all sorts of ways of cooking potatoes, with festive names like champ, bruisy, pandy, boxty, and this one, colcannon.

In the following colcannon recipe, we mix the mashed potatoes in with chopped cooked kale, green onions, milk or cream, and lots of butter.

To serve one makes a depression in the middle of the mashed potatoes and puts a knob of butter in it. To eat it, you dip a forkful of the potatoes in the melted butter.

If ever there was a recipe to get one to eat one’s greens, this is it.

By the way, if you are looking for books on traditional Irish cooking, I can recommend two excellent ones. The first is Irish Traditional Cooking by Darina Allen, of the Ballymaloe Cookery School in County Cork. The second is The Country Cooking of Ireland by Colman Andrews, which won the James Beard award for cookbook of the year in 2010.

Colcannon Recipe

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  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 as a side dish

For a variation, sub out half of the potatoes with parsnips. Can add chives, leeks, or bacon too.

Ingredients

  • 4 russet potatoes (2 to 2 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into large chunks
  • Salt
  • 5-6 Tbsp unsalted butter (with more butter for serving)
  • 3 lightly packed cups of chopped kale, cabbage, chard, or other leafy green
  • 3 green onions (including the green onion greens), minced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 cup milk or cream

Method

1 Boil the potatoes: Put the potatoes in a medium pot and cover with cold water by at least an inch. Add 2 tablespoons of salt, and bring to a boil.

Boil until the potatoes are fork tender (15 to 20 minutes). Drain in a colander.

2 Cook the greens and the green onions with butter: Return the pot to the stove and set over medium-high heat. Melt the butter in the pot and once it's hot, add the greens.

Cook the greens for 3-4 minutes, or until they are wilted and have given off some of their water.

Add the green onions and cook 1 minute more.

3 Mash the potatoes with milk or cream, add greens: Pour in the milk or cream, mix well, and add the potatoes. Reduce the heat to medium.

Use a fork or potato masher and mash the potatoes, mixing them up with the greens.

Add salt to taste and serve hot, with a knob of butter in the center.

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Links:

Colcannon Soup here on Simply Recipes

Colcannon Cakes here on Simply Recipes

Colcannon with Broccoli Rabe - from A Veggie Venture

Colcannon with Wild Greens - from Hunter Angler Gardener Cook

Books:

Irish Traditional Cooking: Over 300 Recipes from Ireland's Heritage - by Darina Allen

The Country Cooking of Ireland - by Colman Andrews

Colcannon

Showing 4 of 62 Comments

  • Boston

    I decided to go the healthy way : 4Tbsp of butter was more than enough to cook the greens, and i didn’t have milk or cream at hand, so i saved a bit of the cooking water for the patotoes, drained the rest, sprinkled them with dried parsley and chives and then poured back about half a cup of cooled potato water while mashing them up. This is the traditional way to mash potatoes, to get the real, genuine potato taste. Ask a french cook! Of course, he’ll say you need to add in some fat, butter or oil, but you have the greens that you sauté’d in with… Just Add ‘Em Up And Voila! Mine were perfect like so. A touch of spice-infused oil when serving would be nice too. This is good for people alergic or intolerant to milk and/or nuts. Another tip : while cooking your cabbage/kale, sprinkling over some lemon juice or vinegar will help your stomach digest it, plus it gives a bit of a tangy taste to the meal. Adding a bit of ground cumin makes it extra special! …And so on!

  • Franny D

    This recipe is a keeper. I slowly sauté sliced regular yellow onions along with the cabbage til caramalized. Mixed with mashed potatoes it’s Devine!

  • Rev. RB

    Most traditional Colcannon recipe I’ve found – truly luscious. Many others I found added bacon or ham when the poor Irish that ate this wouldn’t have had either.

  • Rachel

    I made these for our St. Patrick’s day meal. They were a big hit! I followed the recipe exactly. They were pretty easy to make and very tastey. I used Irish butter to make it extra special. Highly recommend.

  • Donna Mitchell

    Too funny..Without even knowing I have been making a traditional Irish dish for years…kale and mashed potatoes.. My boys love it ! I am of Irish descent but had no one to turn to for recipes..must be in my blood !! Haha

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