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Colcannon

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Serves 4 to 8

This most celebrated of Irish potato dishes 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 the 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.

  • 2 to 2-1/2 lb. russet or other floury potatoes (5 or 6)
  • 6 to 8 Tbs. butter
  • 2 to 3 lightly packed cups chopped kale or assorted chopped greens (such as kale, parsley, sorrel, spinach, and/or broccoli or cauliflower leaves)
  • 1-1/3 cups milk
  • 4 scallions, green part only, minced
  • Salt and pepper

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.

Melt 4 Tbs. 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.

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.

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.

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.

Photo: Christopher Hirsheimer

Wow, Touchy readers. Did you rate it after reading or cooking? I'm of Irish descent and this tastes just as good as any my mothers family makes. I found this recipe by looking for a Colcannon with kale and green onions which was how I remembered it. I used a slightly different method using the same ingredients. I used the method I remember my mom using. making mashed potatoes with butter and half and half, then sauteed the scallions in butter then added the kale and a little water and let it steam for 5 minutes then mixed them all together .To serve I made the well in the center and added the melted butter. I garnished with bacon bits after reading about it other recipes, but it would have been just as delicious without it. I think it's one of those dishes that you can make with any number of variations, it's a great way to get your greens in .

Isn't it funny how the "traditional" recipe for anything is not the tradition in every family? The author essentially says in the introduction that there are as many recipes for Colcannon as there are people who make it. This is just ONE variation and I am sure that anyone who makes it will be one dish happier than they were before they try it.

What's with all the not-authentic complaints? It's from a woman in county Tipperary, how much more authentic can you get? In any case, this is majorly delicious, and I love the color that the kale and scallion greens add.

I am English of Irish heritage and this is not Colcannon as my mother made it. Potatoes and cabbage were cooked in equal portions seperately then mixed together. I agree with the well created by a spoon and melted butter added. We also sauted leftovers in a pan with a little leftover meat drippings and then the English called it "Bubble and Squeek"!!

The recipe we have used every year to take to our Irish friend's St. Paddy's day party is potatoes, cabbage, leeks, (cooked separately then all mashed together--the leeks are sauteed in butter), cream, salt, and mace. Make a well on top and fill with melted butter. Yummers!!!

This is NOT Colcannon. My Irish version is made with mashed potatoes, cabbage & bacon. Cook all separately and then mix together. This recipe may be good but it's not Colcannon.

I grew up in Ireland and love colcannon but this is not colcannon as made by my mother. It's made with floury potatoes, green cabbage in equal portions - cooked separately and then mashed together. When it's cooked you make a well in the centre of your serving and fill it with melted butter. Add some salt and pepper and it's delicious!

This is not my style of Colcannon, it has bacon and cabbage. And it melts in your mouth with heavenly cream yum! This is recipe....not so much.

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