How to make great Colcannon?
March 15, 2012 10:35 AM   Subscribe

Ireland natives/Irish cooking aficionados: what are your tips to make some fantastic Colcannon?

I'm thinking of making some Colcannon for a St. Patrick's Day party this weekend. I've made the recipe before and it turned out really well, but I want to make it even better. What tips do you have that I can use to spruce it up a bit? My recipe calls for the standard potatoes, cabbage/kale, butter, milk, onion, & pepper. Should I make any additions? What do you do to make it super tasty? Did your mom do anything special for it? Many kind thanks in advance-
posted by chatelaine to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You've got it covered. My Dad's Irish and says the thing is to make it rich and satisfying without resorting to adding non-traditional bits and bobs.

Our approach:

floury potatoes, put through a potato ricer when cooked, allow to dry a little
tons of butter and then just enough milk or cream to loosen it
use nice dark green savoy cabbage or kale, shredded finely, sauteed in butter (don't steam it)
enough salt and plenty of pepper (I add powdered white pepper to the potatoes and then grind black pepper on top when it's done).

But personally, I'd avoid adding herbs, spices etc - it's not that sort of food. Make it rich with cream and butter and cook the greens properly so they're tender but not mushy ,and avoid any bitter burnt bits.
posted by dowcrag at 10:46 AM on March 15, 2012

I use the Colcannon soup recipe from Cook's Illustrated. It's super tasty! You can find it here:
posted by Requiax at 10:48 AM on March 15, 2012

Some roasted garlic wouldn't hurt, or some shredded sharp cheddar. I also make a vinaigrette for mine with coarse mustard and apple cider vinegar—this would horrify traditionalists, though.
posted by bcwinters at 10:54 AM on March 15, 2012

Treat this as two preparations: Mashed potatoes, and kale with flavorings. Then optimize for best results on each. Do you have a pressure-cooker? That will make things go a lot faster and you will get a good result.

One of the best techniques for mashed potato is to treat the potato so that the starch undergoes retrogradation. For lack of a much lengthier explanation, when you retrograde the potato starch it changes molecular form in a way so that it will not turn into glue from being overworked later. Just cut up your peeled potato, put in a large pot, bring the pot up to 70C/160F and hold it at that temperature for 35 minutes. Then put the potatoes into a bowl of ice water until completely cold. At this point you can store them in the refrigerator until ready to be used. The starch will have retrograded, and then you can do anything to the potatoes you want. Boil them until tender (I just put a steamer basket in the pressure cooker and "pressure steam" them on the high setting for five minutes) and either mash or run though a potato ricer or food mill. Fold in copious amounts of butter. Season with salt, pepper and lots of freshly grated nutmeg. Stir in some diced softened onion if you like that idea. Then fold in pre-cooked, diced kale. Again, this is something I find easy to do in the pressure cooker (5 minutes in a steamer basket on the high setting). Svoy cabbage would be good too. Thin the whole thing out with heavy cream or creme fraiche to your preferred level of looseness. Eat.
posted by slkinsey at 10:55 AM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

Tons of butter. Season everything at every step. All food is bland when it's not seasoned, especially starchy potatoes.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:56 AM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Although it's not a traditional ingredient, I doubt most people would object if you added bacon.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:58 AM on March 15, 2012

Seconding Cool Papa Bell. Colcannon is all about the butter. Like artichokes, it is a butter conveyance mechanism. Dowcrag's recipe is what I would do.
posted by LN at 11:05 AM on March 15, 2012

Best answer: What you want for this is not to add extra ingredients, but to add really, really good ingredients. For instance, spring for the Kerrygold butter, or whatever fancy-ass European import butter your supermarket has; get the organic milk; etc.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:14 AM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's not traditional but I prefer my colcannon with yogurt instead of milk or cream. I like the slightly sour bite that yogurt adds.
posted by needs more cowbell at 12:38 PM on March 15, 2012

This is the recipe I use; the key to me is the green onion, which gives it a lovely savory bite.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 6:40 PM on March 15, 2012

Best answer: I tend to follow this recipe for colcannon, from one of the members of the excellent Irish band of the same name.
posted by JiBB at 7:08 PM on March 15, 2012

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