Colcannon is traditionally made from mashed potatoes and kale (or cabbage), with spring onions, butter, salt and pepper added. It can contain other ingredients such as milk, cream, leeks, onions and chives. There are many regional variations of this dish. It is often eaten with boiled ham or Irish bacon. At one time it was a cheap, year-round staple food, though nowadays it is usually eaten in autumn/winter, when kale comes into season.
An old Irish Halloween tradition was to serve colcannon with a ring and a thimble hidden in the fluffy green-flecked dish. Prizes of small coins such as threepenny or sixpenny bits were also concealed in it.
- 1½ kg potatoes, scrubbed
- 230 g butter
- 1¼ cups hot milk
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 head cabbage, cored and finely shredded
- 500 g piece ham or bacon, cooked the day before
- 4 spring onions (scallions), finely chopped
- chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, for garnish
- Steam the potatoes in their skins for 30 minutes. Peel them using a knife and fork. Chop with a knife before mashing. Mash thoroughly to remove all the lumps. Add 115g butter in pieces. Gradually add hot milk, stirring all the time. Season with a few grinds of black pepper.
- Boil the cabbage in unsalted water until it turns a darker colour. Add 2 tablespoons butter to tenderise it. Cover with lid for 2 minutes. Drain thoroughly before returning it to the pan. Chop into small pieces.
- Put the ham in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 45 minutes until tender. Drain. Remove any fat and chop into small pieces.
- Add cabbage, spring onions, and ham to mashed potatoes, stirring them in gently.
- Serve in individual soup plates. Make an indentation on the top by swirling a wooden spoon. Put 1 tablespoon of butter into each indentation. Sprinkle with parsley.
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