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Friday, March 16, 2012

Enjoy some Colcannon on St. Patty's Day!

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.

This weekend, enjoy some Colcannon with your family.  [We don't think you have to be Irish to do so.] This traditional Irish dish is a savory combination of mashed white potatoes and dark, leafy kale (or cabbage) cooked together with leeks or scallions and enough milk and butter to make it all smooth, creamy, and yum!

There are variations on this dish but the basic gist is as follows.  (See the complete recipe here.) You can experiment to make it to your taste, I don't think the measurements are hard and fast at all!

To make a big pot of it, you'll need:
  • about 2 lbs white potatoes (Russet, Yukon Gold, whatever you like and have on hand)
  • a few scallions or leeks (you could skip these if you don't like 'em)
  • about 3 lightly packed cups of chopped kale, chard, cabbage (I prefer kale)
  • 6 T butter, divided (4 T, and 2 T melted, for serving)
  • 1 c milk 
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
The plan is simple -- peel, chop and set the potatoes to boil in a large pot of water.  Meanwhile, chop up the scallions or leeks and wash/chop the greens as needed.

Drain the potatoes when they are tender (this will take 10-15 minutes).

The recipe I've linked to has a slightly different preparation but here's what I suggest -- take the same large pot (that you boiled the potatoes in) and add an inch or two of water and a steamer basket.  Put the greens in the steamer basket, cover, and set the pot to boil again.  Place the leeks/scallions in another smaller saucepan with the 1 c milk and allow this mixture to come to a boil and then simmer for a few minutes until the scallions/leeks are soft.  Watch the big pot and turn the heat off when the greens have wilted.

[I realize my directions will now have turned this into a 2-pot meal.  Sorry about that.  I just like it better.]

Remove the wilted greens from the steamer basket and then put the drained potatoes back in the big pot and mash 'em up.  Add 4 T butter, the hot greens, and then pour in the milk & scallions/leeks.  Stir and mash the whole mess, over low heat -- to your desired consistency -- making sure it's all heated through and yummy.  Salt & pepper to taste.

Serving --  It is traditional to serve Colcannon in a bowl with a small well in the middle, into which you have poured a bit of melted butter. Go ahead, I give you permission.  At any rate, enjoy this hearty dish right away or the next day -- it will keep and re-heat very well.  Especially yummy served as a side to kielbasa sausage, like the Dutch version which is called Boerenkool Stamppot.

P.S.  I imagine you're thinking why isn't she suggesting corned-beef-and-cabbage?  Well that's because I don't like corned-beef-and-cabbage and my family would run from the house screaming if I even appeared to be thinking about making that for dinner. Just so we're clear.

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