Irish Colcannon is a classic comfort food that's cheap to make. Irish Chef Richard Corrigan maintains, "There's no such thing as a recipe for Colcannon, really. It's something that is put together with love, not precise measurements."
Generally speaking, that's the way I cook, which is why the hardest part of writing about food is to provide specific measurements.
I've been eager to learn about Irish Colcannon for a long time because it's a potato-based dish. I made my first batch Friday, and we devoured it.
But then, my full-blooded German husband never met a potato he didn't like. I thought it would be good to try something new, but it wasn't a tough audience. We devoured it!
I joke about my husband's German ancestry (he can't help it) and his affinity for spuds, but there was a time in Ireland when potatoes weren't just a thing; they were everything to a certain population sector.
Potatoes were the staple of their very existence. They were the difference between sickness and health, almost to the point of life or death, among the poor in early Ireland. Here is a fascinating article about the importance of the potato in nineteenth-century Ireland.
Remember the words of Irish chef Richard Corrigan, "there's no such thing as a recipe for Colcannon, really. It's something that is put together with love, not measurements." Colcannon does not require precision. Which for this girl is always a good thing.😉
Begin by boiling some "floury" potatoes like Russets. After 50 years of marriage to Papa, I thought I knew everything there was to know about potatoes. Still, the term "floury" is a relatively new bit of potato terminology for me.
Floury potatoes have low water content; most of their sugar has been converted to starch by harvest time. This quality leads to a dry, fluffy, cooked texture accentuated by baking and mashing.
The dry, starchy consistency of Russet potatoes enhances their ability to absorb all the wonderful butter, cream, or bacon drippings that give Colcannon such massive flavor.
Some suggest cooking the potatoes in the skin, peeling them, then mashing them for more flavor. I peeled mine first because I hate to burn my fingers. Cut the potatoes into chunks and boil them in enough salted water to cover them.
Shred some cabbage rather fine. I always buy a head of fresh cabbage because it's cheap, but you could also use a bag of shredded cabbage. Chop the onion and the green onion, and set them both aside while you fry the bacon.
While the potatoes are boiling, cut the bacon into small pieces, fry them until they are crisp, and set the bacon aside on a paper towel to drain. Reserve the drippings for the next step.
Then, saute shredded cabbage and chopped onion in the bacon drippings until they are soft and transparent.
Drain and mash the potatoes, but leave them a little chunky and rustic. Colcannon isn't the place for whipped potatoes. Now, fold the green onions, cabbage-onion-bacon mixture, and every bit of the drippings into the mashed potatoes.
Sprinkle the bacon bits over the top, dot with more butter, sprinkle with parsley for pretty, and serve it piping hot!
We had some wonderful beef Polska kielbasa with our Irish Colcannon. I had charred it a bit, so it looked really tasty. It was a good-looking plate, but imagine what you could do with a wee bit more effort! The humble food of potatoes, cabbage, onion, carrot, and sausage in the photo below makes a feast for a king!
Have you ever had Irish Colcannon? It would be a perfect dish for St. Patrick's Day, but any cold night when you need something cozy to eat is the night for Colcannon! I hope you try it and if you do, send me a picture!! I would be thrilled!
You can use leeks, green onions, Savoy cabbage, or kale in place of all or part of the onions or cabbage.
You can use ham in place of part or all of the bacon if you prefer.
We are potato eaters at our house, and I am a lightning-fast peeler of spuds! Here are some potato recipes we love the most: Crispy Oven-Baked Potatoes, Easy Ham And Scalloped Potatoes, and No-Hassle Hasselback Potatoes.
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Love, GB (Betty Streff)
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