It’s been a while (and I really mean a looooong while) since I posted an Irish recipe, but I came across something a couple of weeks ago I just had to try: colcannon! It’s an old Irish Halloween tradition apparently to serve colcannon with a ring, coin, button and a thimble hidden inside. “Depending on what charm you found it was seen as a sign for the future. A button meant you would remain a bachelor and a thimble meant you would remain a spinster for the coming year. A ring meant you would get married and a coin meant you would come into wealth. Others filled their socks with colcannon and hung them from the handle of the front door in the belief that the first man through the door would be their future husband.” – Irish Central
You can eat this through autumn and winter, and it would usually be served with boiled ham or Irish bacon. Now what is it? The word colcannon is from the Gaelic “cal ceannann,” which literally means “white-headed cabbage.” It’s a very easy but creamy mashed potato recipe with either kale or green cabbage, depending on your own liking. Apart from that there also two ways of cooking this meal. You can either boil the kale/cabbage first or you can fry them with a bit of butter. I chose to go for the frying as I wanted to add spring onions as well and didn’t want to add them raw and they taste really nice when fried with a bit of butter.
Now of course, it wouldn’t be an Irish recipe if it didn’t have a song about it as well:
Did you ever eat Colcannon, made from lovely pickled cream?
With the greens and scallions mingled like a picture in a dream.
Did you ever make a hole on top to hold the melting flake
Of the creamy, flavoured butter that your mother used to make?
Yes you did, so you did, so did he and so did I.
And the more I think about it sure the nearer I’m to cry.
Oh, wasn’t it the happy days when troubles we had not,
And our mothers made Colcannon in the little skillet pot.
Serves: 2 people
- 1/2 kg potatoes (rooster potatoes work very well)
- 125g green cabbage or kale
- 50ml milk
- at least 50g of butter
- 2 spring onions
- handful of fresh parsley
- pepper and salt
Peel the potatoes and put them in cold water with a bit of salt. Bring to a boil and cook until you can easily pierce them with a fork (about 15 – 20 minutes). In the meanwhile,remove the dark leaves and only use the lighter green head of the cabbage and remove the core from this as well along with the white nerves in the leaves. Chop the spring onions finely and do the same for the kale or green cabbage.
Heat up a little bit of butter in a pan and the spring onions and kale/cabbage once it’s melted. When the potatoes are done, drain the water and put the potatoes back in the pot, turn down the heat but put the pot back on it. This will help evaporate any water that’s still left, as we need dry potatoes to make the mash. Do this only for a couple of minutes, and make sure your potatoes don’t end up getting burned of course.
Now add the milk and butter and start mashing away! You can add more butter if you don’t find the potatoes creamy enough but don’t add too much at a time. Once you the consistency is as you like it, add cabbage/kale and season with pepper and salt. Add just a few pieces of parsley and you are good to go! Best served with some delicious bacon or ham but it also goes well with chicken or white fish like cod.