Colcannon is a traditional Irish dish made of mashed potatoes with cabbage or kale, milk or cream, and often leeks or green onions. There are endless variations of this cozy, rustic, and comforting side dish, and it is a great accompaniment to ham, bacon or sausage. In the recipe below, creamy mashed potatoes are mixed with shredded cooked cabbage, sliced green onions, salt and pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg. A square of butter goes in the center of the bowl to melt, infusing the potatoes with even more comfort and flavor.
In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I decided to make a pot of colcannon. I based my recipe on one I found in one of my favorite cookbooks–The Irish Kitchen: 150 Recipes for Everyday Cooking from the Emerald Isle–published by Parragon Books, Ltd. I stayed pretty close to the recipe in the book, except that since I did not have leeks, I used green onions instead. The result was a warm, steaming bowl of creamy deliciousness. The cabbage, green onions, and nutmeg give the mashed potatoes an added zing of flavor, in addition to packing in some healthy nutrients.
In addition its rustic comfort-food appeal, the economy of this dish cannot be overlooked. Cabbage and potatoes are some of the most reasonably-priced vegetables around (especially in the week leading up to St. Patrick’s Day, when lots of grocery stores put them on sale!). I love using cabbage in my cooking, and feel like it’s one of those unsung heroes, one of the most underrated of vegetables. And when it is shredded, lightly cooked, and mixed with fluffy mashed potatoes, I taste something deeply satisfying and nourishing.
In addition to loving the taste and texture of colcannon, I love the name. It has such a pretty ring to it (though its meaning, literally translated from Irish Gaelic, means white-headed cabbage–not such a poetic image, but that’s ok). I simply like the way it sounds. Someone else must have liked it too, because there is an Irish folk song called “Colcannon.” If you want to listen to it from the following link, Irish singer Mary Black has a pretty version. The song makes me think about how often the most basic dishes can evoke happiness and satisfaction, and bring back strong memories of companionship and good times.
It was so great to have the sun shining while I was taking photos today! It has often been a struggle this winter to find enough good light for photos. I hope you all have a great weekend, and a great St. Patrick’s Day, if you celebrate it! Cheers! I will be sharing this recipe over at Angie’s virtual potluck, Fiesta Friday, where I always find inspiring ideas!
“May joy and peace surround you, contentment latch your door, and happiness be with you now and bless you evermore!” ~an Irish blessing
- 2 and 1/2 cups of green cabbage, finely shredded
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup of milk
- 2 to 3 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
- a bunch of green onions (or about 1/2 cup), finely sliced, using both the white and green parts
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg or freshly grated nutmeg
- 1-2 tablespoons of butter
- salt and pepper
Shred the cabbage, peel and dice the potatoes, and slice the green onions.
In a saucepan, cook the cabbage in boiling salted water until tender, about 7-10 minutes. Drain in a colander and set aside.
Meanwhile, in another saucepan, bring the milk just to a boil. Add the potatoes and green onions and reduce the heat to simmer. The milk should just cover the potatoes. Add a bit more milk if necessary. You’re going to mash the potatoes right in this same pan, so you don’t want too much milk, but just enough to allow the potatoes to cook. Simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently, for about 15-20 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked through and very tender. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the nutmeg, and mash the potatoes and green onions thoroughly.
Add the drained cabbage to the mashed potatoes, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine everything completely.
Spoon the mixture into a warm serving dish. Make a hollow in the center with the back of the spoon. Place the butter in the hollow. Serve the colcannon while it is still warm, alongside sausage, ham, or bacon, or another main course. Enjoy!
This recipe is adapted from The Irish Kitchen: 150 Recipes for Everyday Cookig from the Emerald Isle, published by Parragon Book, Ltd