Authentic Irish Colcannon

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.

colcannon mis en place

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.

colcannon cabbage cooking

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.

colcannon mash

When potatoes are done, add butter and milk (or if you prefer, heavy cream) salt and pepper and mash well.

colcannon add everything

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.

colcannon final

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!

Slainte Mhaith!

Print Recipe
Authentic Irish Colcannon
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. Here, we've come up with our own twist on the dish and used some red onion and American bacon (with the fat trimmed). We hope you enjoy it!
colcannon close up
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American, British, Irish
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American, British, Irish
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
colcannon close up
Instructions
  1. Start with a 4-6 quart pot full of water. Peel and dice the potatoes and add to the pot. Bring to a boil. Boil about 10 minutes or until fork tender. Drain (save about 2 cups of potato water) and set aside.
  2. While potatoes are boiling, cook bacon meat in large sauce pan until thoroughly cooked but NOT crispy. Set aside to cool. Once cool enough to handle, chop bacon into small pieces about 1/4" so it will disperse well into the mashed potatoes.
  3. In the same pan the bacon was cooked add 3 tablespoons of butter, chopped cabbage, diced onion and spring onion. Sautee 3-5 minutes over medium heat. Add a cup or two of the potato water, enough to cover the cabbage. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes or until cabbage is fork tender and most of the liquid is gone.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, mash together 3 tablespoons of butter, 1/4 cup milk and potatoes. Season well with salt & pepper.
  5. Once potatoes are well mashed, add cabbage mixture and bacon. Stir gently but thoroughly with a large long handled spoon until all ingredients are well incorporated.
  6. Serve in a deep bowl. Make a well in the center, place a pad of butter and serve immediately. Slainte Mhaith!

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