As far as I know, I don't have a drop of Irish blood in my veins, but you know what they say: "On St. Patty's Day, everyone's Irish." I can definitely get on board with that sentiment. I love the traditional Irish mainstays that our family eats approximately twice a year, right around this time. Corned beef and cabbage, soda bread, and some version of a side dish featuring potatoes running with melted butter. I say we eat it twice because both my parents and my in-laws cook "the" dinner, and then that's it till next year's Irish-for-a-day (times two) food fest.
There is one Irish dish that makes it to our table more often than corned beef does. (And okay, soda bread is a year-round fave.) Typically served at Halloween, colcannon (cál ceannan) is a perfect way to use up some of those lingering winter veggies. Got some softening potatoes? Introduce them to your favorite variety of green or white cabbage. Or feel free to replace the cabbage with kale. I’m partial to the tender, wrinkled leaves of Savoy cabbage, so I like to use that.
If you wish, you can sauté a few slices of bacon, crumble it, and set it aside to mix in right before serving. Use the rendered bacon drippings to sauté the cabbage and onion. Oh yeah, I'm feeling the luck of the Irish already!
- 2 pounds potatoes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 1/2 head cabbage, thinly sliced
- Milk, chicken broth, or vegetable stock, as needed
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- Grated white cheddar cheese, if desired
Peel, dice, and boil the potatoes in lightly salted water until tender. While the potatoes are cooking, combine olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium heat. When butter is melted, add onion and shallot. Sauté until onion begins to sweat, and add cabbage. Sauté cabbage mixture until all vegetables are very tender. If necessary, add a little water or stock to moisten.
When potatoes are done, drain and return to pan. Add milk or broth as necessary and mash with a potato masher. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Stir cabbage mixture into mashed potatoes and transfer to serving bowl. Make a depression in the center and pour the melted butter into it. Sprinkle with grated white cheddar cheese if desired, and serve.
Planning to make some Irish Soda Bread to accompany your St. Patrick's Day dinner? Stop by my baking blog, At the Baker's Bench, and check out my recipe for traditional soda bread, with a cranberry brown sugar variation.