Often regarded in the U.S. to be a food for St. Patrick’s Day, colcannon is traditionally enjoyed at Halloween in the old country of Ireland. Cooks there would hide coins or trinkets or charms inside, and legend said that what you found in your hearty spoonful was an omen for the coming season—be it riches or poverty, marriage or singlehood. The exact origin of the dish is disputed, but historians are certain that it has been enjoyed in Ireland since at least the mid-1700s, and there’s no arguing that it is creamy, satisfying comfort food at its best.
Well, did you ever make colcannon made with lovely pickled cream
With the greens and scallions mingled like a picture in a dream
Did you ever make a hole on top to hold the ‘melting’ flake
Of the creamy flavoured butter that our mothers used to make
Oh you did, so you did, so did he and so did IExcerpt from The Auld Skillet Pot – Mac Con Iomaire
And the more I think about it, sure the nearer I’m to cry
Oh weren’t them the happy days when troubles we knew not
And our mother made colcannon in the little skillet pot
With fiber-rich potatoes, cabbage, onions and butter, colcannon could seriously stand on its own as a meal. My version subs in cooked kale and leeks for the cabbage and onions, and it is a gorgeous addition to our homemade corned beef and cabbage dinner.
2 1/2 pounds potatoes (mix of russet and golds), peeled and boiled until tender
2 fat handfuls fresh curly kale, washed and chopped
1 leek (white and light green parts), cleaned and sliced
8 Tbsp. good Irish butter (divided)
1 cup light cream, room temperature
Salt and pepper
- While potatoes are cooking, melt 2 Tbsp. of butter in a skillet or small pot. Sauté chopped kale and sliced leeks until wilted and tender. Season with salt and pepper.
- Drain potatoes, return to pot and add 4 Tbsp. of butter and light cream. Mash until soft and fluffy. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add kale and leeks to the potatoes and fold to blend. Serve family style with remaining butter on top.