Potatoes and Cabbage
Irish Colcannon mixes two delicious classic Irish dishes–mashed potatoes and cabbage. The first known reference of colcannon comes from the diary of William Bulkeley, circa 1753 when he mentions enjoying the dish during his travels to Dublin. The word colcannon is derived from the Gaelic term cal ceannann, which means white-headed cabbage.
Mashed Potatoes and Other Veggies
Colcannon is very similar to champ, which is a side dish made with mashed potatoes and spring onion. Colcannon however typically contains cabbage, leeks and sometimes streaky bacon or ham. The English also have their own take on the dish, turning it into Bubble and Squeak. In that version, the mashed potatoes are mixed with any chopped vegetable (mainly cabbage/peas/carrots), then pressed into a round cake and fried in butter until they have a crisp edge.
On the Lighter Side
In my years of cooking I’ve played around different versions of these classic dishes. One way to make this dish lighter, especially when it comes to calories, is to substitute a good quality brown chicken or vegetable stock and velouté for the cream and butter. It’s really delicious and surprising how little you will miss the cream and butter.
Spinach in place of, or in addition to the cabbage is also very tasty. Give it a try and play around with it till you’ve made a version that favor.
- 3 lbs potatoes, peeled and cubed Yukon Gold preferred or Russets
- 8 tbsp butter
- ½ whole leeks, sliced in half and rinsed thoroughly
- 2 cups cabbage, sliced or shredded thin, preferably Green or Napa variety (Kale, bok choy
- ¾ cup milk
- ¾ cup heavy cream (If you don't want the calories from the cream add chicken or vegetable stock to deglaze the cabbage and leeks instead)
- 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
- ½ tsp pepper, black pepper or white
Prepping the Potatoes
Peel the potatoes and place in a large bowl full of cold water. Once all of the potatoes have been peeled, quarter them into uniform size pieces. Keep submerged in cold water. Reserve.
Preparing the Leeks and Cabbage
Make sure to clean the leeks thoroughly. Most leeks are grown in a sandy soil which can can get into the all the different layers. Clean these thoroughly. Use the light green and the white part of the leaks only. The dark green parts of the leeks can be tough.
Slice the cabbage and leeks thinly and reserve.
Sauté the leeks and cabbage until tender. Always heat the butter and milk/cream before adding them to the mashed potatoes. (Optionally, you can add a bit of fresh squeezed lemon juice to the vegetables to have them retain their green color.) Reserve.
Warm the Milk and Cream
Using a small sauce pot, heat the milk and cream. Reserve.
Cooking the Potatoes
Using a large pot of salted water over medium-high heat, bring the water to a boil.
Drain the potatoes from the cold water, and add them to the boiling water. Cook for approximately 15 minutes. Check the potatoes for doneness by inserting the tip of a knife into a potato piece. The knife tip should slide easily in and out of the potato.
Drain and add ¼ of the potatoes to the work bowl of a mixer. DON'T add all of the potatoes at once. Start with a small amount.
Turn the mixer on low and slowly lower or raise the paddle attachment as the potatoes are mixing. As you mix the potatoes, gradually add more until they are all incorporated.
Making the Colcannon
With the mashed potatoes still in the work bowl of the stand mixer, add the butter/leek/cabbage mix and turn on low to incorporate.
Add ⅓ cup of the reserved warm milk/cream mixture. Turn the mixer to medium-low speed and continue to add the cream/milk mixture gradually until all of it has been added.
Taste and adjust seasoning. Remove the work bowl from the mixer and spoon out the Colcannon into a warmed serving dish and serve.
If you need to hold the Colcannon warm in the oven for a while, remember to place a barrier between the potatoes and aluminum foil. Plastic or parchment paper works great.