Mashed potatoes, mixed with green cabbage and lots of butter make this Irish colcannon a truly irresistible side dish to serve with roasts, sausages or other meat dishes. You can even fry leftovers up with other vegetables and transform it into a delicious dish of bubble and squeak.
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What is colcannon?
In its simplest form, colcannon is simply boiled potatoes mashed with boiled cabbage and topped with a knob of butter! If you want to get closer to the authentic Irish version of colcannon, you can substitute the cabbage with kale.
However, you can have many variations on a theme. Some people like to add chopped leeks (which I have done), others turn colcannon into a cross between colcannon and champ, and add spring onions, and yet other people will add chopped crispy bacon bits and turn it into a complete meal.
The concept is similar to the very South African way of mixing vegetables with potatoes - such as this recipe for boereboontjies (or mashed green beans), which can also be made with carrots or spinach instead of beans.
Thinking about it, it probably stems from times gone by, when potatoes were plentiful, and fresh vegetables less so. It was a way of making vegetables stretch to feed more mouths.
Either way, colcannon is a very tasty dish, and I'm happy to be able to share my simple version with you in time for St Patrick's Day.
What you will need
For boiling the potatoes and sauteing the leeks and cabbage, you will need a couple of saucepans. The only other items you will need are a potato peeler, and a sharp knife and a chopping board for cutting up the vegetables.
This recipe will feed 4 people as a side dish. To make a larger batch, simply adjust the amount of vegetables you use.
**You can get the full recipe for Irish colcannon on the printable recipe card at the end of this post**
Potatoes - choose a potato that you would normally use for making mash, such as Maris Piper or King Edward. You want quite a floury potato, not a starch one.
Leek - make sure you wash all the grit out from between the leaves of the leek.
Cabbage - for this recipe I've used a savoy cabbage because it has a nice green colour. You can use white cabbage, but then your colcannon is not going to have the lovely green colour running through it. And as I said earlier, you can substitute this with a similar amount of kale.
Butter - you can use either salted or unsalted butter, but you will need to take this into account when deciding how much salt to add to the colcannon.
Cream - use single (or pouring) cream - if you don't have single cream you can use milk instead.
Nutmeg - this is optional, and you will only need about one-quarter of a teaspoon. A small amount of nutmeg does add an additional subtle flavour to the finished dish. You can use either ground nutmeg, or whole nutmeg which you grate on a micro planer (or the smallest holes on a cheese grater).
Not pictured, but you will also need salt (which is optional and to your own taste) and freshly ground black pepper.
What to do
Peel the potatoes and cut them into quarters. Place them in a pan of cold salted water, cover with a lid and boil until the potatoes are soft enough to mash. Drain the potatoes through a colander then return them to the pan.
Slice the leeks and cabbage thinly. Melt the butter in a saucepan, then add the leeks and cabbage, season lightly with salt, cover with a lid and let them sweat over a low heat until they have softened. Stir occasionally. This will take about 10 minutes. Stir in one or two tablespoons of water if the vegetables start to stick to the pan.
After 10 minutes the leeks and cabbage should be soft and have reduced in volume by about half. Remove the pan from the heat.
Add the nutmeg, cream and butter to the potatoes and mash thoroughly.
Stir in the cooked cabbage mixture. Check for seasoning and add ground black pepper to taste.
Transfer the mixture to a serving dish and top with a knob of butter. Serve as a side dish with your favourite roast.
I also like to serve this dish with my crispy eisbein - the cabbage and mashed potatoes make the perfect foil for the richness of the pork.
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Yes, cooked potatoes freeze very well. Allow the colcannon to cool and then pack it into suitable freezer containers. Freeze for up to 6 months.
When you are ready to eat it, allow it to defrost in the refrigerator and then reheat it either in a saucepan on the stove or in the microwave.
Yes, you can prepare the dish up to 4 days ahead of time and then store it in a covered container in the refrigerator.
When you are ready to eat it, you can reheat it either in a saucepan on the stove or in the microwave.
There is quite a lot you can do with leftover colcannon, here are a few suggestions to give you some ideas:
- pan-fry the colcannon in hot oil, turning occasionally with a spatula, until it starts to brown. Serve as hash browns with eggs and bacon for breakfast.
- use the colcannon mash (sprinkled with cheese) as a topping on a shepherd's pie.
- make potato cakes by mixing the leftovers with a small egg and 3 or 4 tablespoons of flour (depending on how much leftover colcannon you have). Optionally add a few rashers of crumbled crispy bacon. Form into patties and fry for 2 to 3 minutes per side. These are delicious with sausages.
Save for later
If you'd like to make this colcannon, why not save the recipe to one of your Pinterest boards so you can find it easily? Just click on the image below.
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Here are some other Irish recipes you might like to try:
- Slow cooker Irish lamb stew with barley - succulent chunks of lamb with vegetables swimming in a thick meaty gravy.
- Irish seafood chowder - a creamy seafood soup made with prawns, mussels and calamari
- No-knead seeded Irish soda bread with buttermilk - an easy soda bread, packed with seeds - perfect for soaking up the seafood chowder!
(Click the stars to rate this recipe)
- 1 pound / 450 grams potatoes
- 1 medium leek
- ½ small savoy cabbage
- 3 tablespoons single cream or milk
- 1½ ounces / 40 grams butter (for frying the leeks)
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ ounce / 15 grams butter (for the potatoes)
- Salt to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 knob butter for melting on top.
- Peel the potatoes, cut them into chunks and put them in a pan of lightly salted water. Cover the pan with a lid and boil the potatoes until they are soft enough to mash (10 to 12 minutes depending on how large you cut the potatoes).1 pound / 450 grams potatoes, Salt to taste
- Meanwhile, slice the leek and remove the core from the cabbage. Shred the cabbage finely.½ small savoy cabbage, 1 medium leek
- Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the leeks and cabbage. Season with salt to taste. Cover the pan with a lid and let the vegetables sweat over a low heat until they have softened. Stir occasionally. This will take about 10 minutes. Stir in one or two tablespoons of water if the vegetables stick to the pan. Remove the pan from the heat.1½ ounces / 40 grams butter (for frying the leeks)
- Add the nutmeg, cream and butter to the potatoes and mash thoroughly.3 tablespoons single cream, ½ ounce / 15 grams butter (for the potatoes), ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- Stir the cabbage and leek mixture into the potatoes. Taste for seasoning and add extra salt (if needed) and a good grinding of black pepper.Salt to taste, Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Transfer the mixture to a serving dish and top with a knob of butter. Serve as a side dish with your favourite roast.1 knob butter for melting on top.
I am not a nutritionist. The nutrition information has been calculated using an on-line calculator, and is intended for information and guidance purposes only. If the nutrition information is important to you, you should consider calculating it yourself, using your preferred tool.
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