The first time I tried Colcannon was long before I met the Englishman. I worked at a lovely Irish Pub near Nashville ran by my friends the Kavanagh’s. Tom is from Ireland and the food was authentic and delicious. Colcannon is a traditional Irish dish made of mashed potatoes, cabbage or kale and lots of butter. There are several variations that include spring onions (what us ‘Mericans call green onions), leeks, or boiled ham or bacon.
After discussing with the Englishman how his Mum prepared this dish we came up with our version. I must say, it is easy and super delicious! Now, English bacon is quite different from what we know as bacon here in the States. The Englishman has tried to find suitable substitutions but to no avail. Instead, we bought some high quality bacon with as much meat as we could find. I simply pulled the fat from the meat to get as little bacon fat as possible in the dish. We really just want the lovely ham/bacon flavor.
We also chose to use spring onions instead of leeks simply because of availability. While you can find leeks at the local grocery store here in the Nashville area, they are typically bundled as two huge leeks and we only need a small amount for this recipe. Meanwhile, we have been growing spring onions on the patio so it was a no brainer.
Gather your ingredients: Potatoes, cabbage, diced red onion, spring onion, bacon and plenty of salt & pepper. While some people may like the rustic style of unpeeled potatoes when making mash, this recipe classically calls for peeling them. Dice them into similar size chunks, cover with water and boil until mashable, about 10 minutes of a rolling boil. While the potatoes are boiling, get the rest of the ingredients cooked.
In a large pan, cook the bacon until well done but NOT crispy. Take it out and let it cool a bit. Next, dice it into small pieces so it will disperse throughout the mash.
With the little bit of bacon fat left add some butter, the cabbage and both types of onion. Season well with salt and pepper. When the potatoes are done take a cup or two of water and add it to the cabbage. Let the cabbage boil until super tender and most of the liquid is gone.
When potatoes are done, add butter and milk (or if you prefer, heavy cream) salt and pepper and mash well.
Add the well cooked cabbage mixture and bacon. Season again with salt and pepper. This dish can handle a lot of seasoning. Mix well with a long handled spoon. Do not use a potato masher or whisk. You want the cabbage to stay chunky.
The classic way to serve Colcannon is in a deep bowl with a well in the center and a large dab of butter to dip each bite in. Healthy? Nope. But a fantastic comfort food!
Please share your results with us if you decide to make this dish!