Ahhhh….Colcannon! Irish Comfort food at its finest! I can’t believe in all my years of St. Patrick’s Day blogging I haven’t shared this recipe. For those of you who might be unfamiliar with this dish, it is buttery mashed potatoes whipped up with cabbage, leeks and bacon. OMG right?!!! With that list of outstanding ingredients, you just know it is going to be to die for.
Colcannon or Cál Ceannann in Irish simply means white-headed cabbage. There are many regional variations on this dish, sometimes ham is used rather than bacon, sometimes you’ll find spring onions included rather than leeks. Indeed, I was rather horrified to discover that some peculiar folks will use kale rather than cabbage. This is disturbing to me for a couple of reasons. First off, the dish’s actual name is the word for cabbage, so….
And then of course, I hate kale. Yup…hate it. I know it is good for me. However, I find it bitter and evil. In fact the mere thought of kale inspires this same look I have when I find caraway seeds in my soda bread.
I’m flexible on swapping around some of the other ingredients in my Colcannon, though I do believe that leeks, cabbage and bacon are supreme. But, please… don’t get that nasty old kale anywhere near my Colcannon! Anyhoo…In Ireland, Colcannon is traditionally served on Halloween. It is a bit like Barmbrack that I just recently told you about, in that it was used in Halloween divination rituals. Several charms or trinkets, such as a ring, thimble or coins would be stirred into the Colcannon before it was served. The item you ended up with on your plate would tell your fortune. (i.e.. if you got a ring, you would be married before the year was through.) In the 1800’s, Irish immigrants brought this recipe with them to the United States and Colcannon came to be associated more with St. Patrick’s Day, rather than Halloween. I can definitely say, for me, Colcannon is great any time of the year. Sheer Comfort Food perfection!
Colcannon (Cál Ceannann)
recipe slightly adapted from: Williams Sonoma
- 2 1/2 lb. potatoes, peeled and quartered
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup milk (or cream if you are feeling particularly decadent)
- 4 bacon slices, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 2 large leeks, white and light green portions,
halved lengthwise, rinsed well and thinly sliced
- 1/2 small head cabbage, about 1 lb., cored
and coarsely chopped
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Put the potatoes in a large pot, add water to cover the potatoes by 2 inches and generously salt the water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to medium and cook until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, about 15 minutes. Drain well in a colander.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over low heat, combine the butter and milk and heat until the butter melts and the mixture is hot, 8 to 10 minutes.
Set a potato ricer over the bowl of a stand mixer and press the potatoes through in batches. Mix in the milk mixture in two additions. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the bowl with aluminum foil and set over a large saucepan of barely simmering water to keep warm.
Heat a heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium heat until hot. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Set aside.
Pour off all but 3 Tablespoons of the fat from the pot. Return the pot to medium heat, add the leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the cabbage and toss until tender-crisp, about 8 minutes. Sprinkle with freshly ground nutmeg and the bacon, and season with salt and pepper. Stir the potatoes into the cabbage mixture and serve warm.
Colcannon brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)
Links to Useful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Colcannon: