I slipped up last Friday, pausing my month-long gluten-free diet for slices of soda bread at my office. We held a bake-off, and as one of three participants, it would have been rude for me not to try my competitors’ bread. Right? That’s how I rationalized it. I was just getting in the St. Patrick’s Day spirit, but I haven’t had gluten since.
When St. Patrick’s Day arrived on Sunday, I couldn’t celebrate with green beer or whiskey, so I chose red wine, beef stew, and colcannon instead. Colcannon is a traditional Irish dish made with mashed potatoes, milk or cream, kale or cabbage, salt, and pepper. I love the flavor and vibrant green of kale leaves, so I used them instead of cabbage, along with thinly sliced leeks.
And did I mention butter? There’s a lot of butter in this dish. If you look at the photo at the top of this post, that’s a whole tablespoon melted in the middle just for serving. It’s all part of the tradition and immortalized in this Irish folk song:
(Related sidenote: If any singers in Brooklyn want to form an a cappella group to perform Irish folk songs during St. Patrick’s Day season, I think we could make a killing. Let me know.)
Serves 6 as a side
Adapted from Simply Recipes
- 4 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 leek, thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)
- 3 cups of chopped kale (you can also use cabbage)
- 1 cup 2% milk (or cream)
- Salt and pepper to taste
1. Put the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water by at least one inch. Add a sprinkling of salt and bring to a boil. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender. Stain in a colander and set aside.
2. Place the pot back on the stove and add the butter. Melt over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until they begin to get tender. Add the chopped kale and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring often.
3. Pour in the milk and stir well. Add the potatoes and mash with a fork or potato masher. Use a wooden spoon to mix them with the greens. Add salt and pepper to taste.
4. Put the colcannon in a large bowl to serve. For the sake of presentation and flavor, but certainly not your health, make an indentation in the center and add a tablespoon of butter. Serve immediately.