Holiday Hype is the reason why some foods are only served once a year: we get all excited about seasonal treats but by and large, they rarely live up to that hype. At this time of year, there are a lot of foods that fall under that Holiday Hype banner and yes, I’m looking at you, green bagels with corned beef…
Colcannon, however, is a food that should NOT be reserved just for St Patrick’s Day.
It is just too good and in my view it should be served often during winter, as it is one of the most comforting comfort foods around.
Those of you who haven’t heard of this tasty dish before may well be wondering what it is and you will be delighted to learn that it is a mixture of buttery, creamy mash with kale and leeks, making it the perfect side dish to Irish bangers (and a way of soaking up too much Guinness.)
A traditional Colcannon is not baked, but I like to keep it under the broiler until the top is browned and there is a marked contrast in texture between the crispy topping and the smooth buttery mash below.
If you want, you can also add leftover ham to it to make a more substantial dish.
- 1 ½ lb potatoes (choose a variety that is a good masher, such as Russett)
- A few handfuls of kale – about 4oz
- 1 leek pale green and white parts only cut into ½ “ slices
- A few slices of ham (optional)
- 4 tablespoons of butter
- 1 cup of whole milk
- Salt and Pepper
Cook the potatoes in in deep boiling water until tender. In the meantime melt a tablespoon of butter in a frying pan and cook the leeks until they soften.
Preparing The Kale:
Steam the handfuls of kale and then drain. I like the kale to keep its bright color (especially on a day when you want everything to be green) so I usually only steam or boil for a few minutes before chopping it and adding to the mash.
Making The Mash:
When the potatoes are soft, drain the water and beat to a mash with a potato masher, wooden spoon or in a food mixer. Pour in 150ml of the hot milk and add a thick slice of butter. Make sure the mash is sufficiently smooth before stirring the greens as you will never get the lumps out afterwards.
Finishing Up & Serving:
Chop the kale and ham before mixing and folding them and the leeks into the mashed potatoes.
Season the dish with salt and pepper and put the mixture in a 8” square pan, making a small well in the center. Place under a preheated broiler and grill until lightly browned.
Remove it from the broiler and add 2 tablespoons of butter into the center well.
Serve immediately, spooning some of the melted butter onto each serving.
Delicious… and not just on March 17th !