For an end-of-winter, hello-springtime supper with a bit of Irish flavor, the classic mash of potatoes and winter greens known as colcannon is a lovely way to go. Though its only holiday association is a Halloween connection rather than Saint Patrick’s Day proper, it’s a simple, satisfying dish to enjoy for fun today, and then add to your weeknight cooking routine just because it tastes so good. The Irish name for colcannon is cal ceannann, referring to the cabbage involved in the dish. Typically made with cabbage or kale, it’s an ideal way to enjoy the leafy members of the cruciferous vegetable family, all of which have numerous nutritional gifts along with the flavor and color they provide. Given my particular position as a Southerner with Irish roots, I decided to use collards in this batch, and pair them with hot sage-flavored ground sausage shaped into patties. These I fried in my cast iron skillet, and then fried sliced apples in the same pan, all while my pot of colcannon kept warm on the back of the stove. In addition to the essential potatoes and cabbage, butter, salt and pepper are standard, along with something from the onion family, including leeks, onions, scallions, and chives, with these members of the fragrant and flavorful allium family simmered in milk or butter or both, while the greens and potatoes are cooking to tenderness. If you hunger for more Irish inspiration for your Saint Patrick’s Day kitchen, head over to my friend’s fine blog, The Runaway Spoon, where you’ll find her excellent recipes for both corned beef and cabbage and Irish soda bread.
1 1/2 pounds potatoes, to make about 4 cups cooked
About 4 cups raw chopped collards, kale, or cabbage (8 ounces)
1/2 cup milk or water
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped scallions/green onions (about 4)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Cook the potatoes in a saucepan with lightly salted water to cover them by an inch, boiling them until they are tender enough to mash, probably 20 to 30 minutes. Cook the collards, kale or cabbage in lightly salted water to cover, just until tender, 10 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the milk, butter, and scallions in a small pan, and bring to a gentle boil. Simmer about 5 minutes, until the scallions are fragrant and softened. Set aside.
Drain both potatoes and collards/greens well. Mash the potatoes in the pot. Chop the greens well and add them to the potatoes, along with the green onions and milk and the salt and pepper. Mash and stir to combine everything well, and serve hot or warm.