On cool fall nights, when you're hungry for something warm and deeply satisfying, make colcannon. It's easy to make, hearty, and very affordable - requiring only a few simple ingredients.
What is it?
Colcannon is a traditional Irish dish made with mashed potatoes, kale or cabbage, milk, and butter. Occasionally, other ingredients are added as well such as laver (a type of seaweed), parsnips, green onions, leeks, or onions. It's commonly served with ham, sausages, or bacon.
It's a hearty, deeply satisfying dish that is also affordable. This makes colcannon. a year-round favorite; however, it holds a special place in the traditional foods of Halloween in which a small portion is often reserved for the fairies and placed under a hawthorn tree.
What's in it?
There are three essential ingredients in colcannon: potatoes, greens, and dairy. While potatoes are the foundation of colcannon, greens and dairy products may vary, and some cooks add additional ingredients to theirs.
- Potatoes. Choose medium-starch or floury potatoes. Pink Kerr, Yukon Gold and even Russets work well. New potatoes, which are waxy, give colcannon a glue-like texture and don't mash well.
- Greens. Kale is the traditional green added to colcannon; however, white cabbage or savoy cabbage also do well. Some recipes call for wild greens, such as nettle.
- Dairy. Whole milk is the most common addition to colcannon; however, folklore and song also mention both buttermilk and cream. In addition to this, the dish is served with butter which melts into the potatoes as they cool acting as a sort of sauce.
Colcannon Recipe with Kale
- 2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes (peeled and quartered)
- 4 medium green onions (sliced thin)
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 cups coarsely chopped steamed kale
- ¼ cup butter (softened)
- finely ground real salt (as needed)
- Arrange the potatoes in a medium pot, and then cover with cold water by an inch. Bring it all to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil the potatoes until tender, about 15 minutes.
- While the potatoes cook, tip the green onions into a small saucepan, and then cover them with milk. Warm the milk and green onions together over medium-low heat.
- When the potatoes are tender, drain them in a colander and return them to the cooking pot. Pour the milk and green onions over the potatoes, and then dump in the steamed kale. Mash them all together until smooth and creamy, adjusting the seasoning as needed with salt.
- To serve, transfer the colcannon to a serving bowl, and make a well in the center of the mash with the back of a spoon. Drop the butter into the well, and let it melt in the heat of the potatoes. Serve hot.
- Store any leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Try cabbage instead of kale. Steamed or boiled white or savoy cabbage can replace the kale in this recipe.
Add parsnips. Some of the earliest recipes for colcannon include mashed parsnips as well as mashed potatoes.
Skip the green onions and swap in leeks. Leeks sautéed in butter or bacon grease is a particularly nice addition to colcannon.
Add heavy cream instead of milk. Cream adds a delicious richness to colcannon, although whole milk works well, too.
Swap buttermilk for whole milk. Buttermilk has a delicate tartness that provides a bright note to colcannon and is sometimes used in place of whole milk or cream.
If you skip the dairy in colcannon, you lose a bit of its spirit. Butter and milk or cream are central elements of the dish, you could make kale mashed potatoes instead by using broth in place of milk and omitting the butter.
Medium-starch potatoes, such as Yukon Gold, work well for colcannon. High-starch potatoes, such as Russets, are also nice. Avoid waxy potatoes such as new potatoes.
Pork sausages, lamb stew, and ham all work well with colcannon. For a meat-free option, try serving a fried egg over it.
Colcannon will keep in the fridge for about 5 days.
To reheat, place the leftovers into a baking dish, top with additional butter or cream, and cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 350 F for about 30 minutes or until the center of the colcannon is warmed through.
No. Potatoes don't freeze well.