Ready to take your mashed potatoes up a notch? Try Colcannon, or Irish Mashed Potatoes with Kale, where the spuds are loaded with garlic, leeks, kale and butter. Sound delicious? It really is!
History of Colcannon:
Colcannon (Irish Mashed Potatoes with Kale), has quite the backstory. Potatoes are synonymous with Ireland. So you might be surprised to hear that they aren't actually native to the country. The root veggie arrived on the island in the early 1600's. It was quickly embraced by the Irish population. By 1845, the Irish diet was so dependent on potatoes that when a fungal infestation ruined the majority of the potato crop for the next seven years, over one million people died of starvation. That's when Irish people began emigrating in droves, including to America.
Why is there Kale in Irish Mashed Potatoes?
Kale was a staple in the ancestral Irish diet. Combining potatoes and kale resulted in a hearty dish that was more filling than simple greens. It quickly became so popular that songs were literally written about it. Now, here's the REALLY fascinating part of the story.
According to Mac Con Iomaire (an Irish chef and lecturer from the Dublin Institute of Technology), Colcannon was served as a "fortune-telling dish" on Halloween. It's similar to the idea behind serving King Cake on Mardi Gras. Tokens were cooked into the dish, and whatever token was discovered in your serving was indicative of your future. A coin foretold that you would come into money, a rag meant that you would fall into poverty, and a stick meant your spouse was going to beat you. Crazy, right? Here's to a year full of coins...and no sticks.
When to serve Colcannon:
You can certainly serve Colcannon (Irish Mashed Potatoes with Kale) with Corned Beef for St. Patrick's Day dinner. However, you shouldn't count Colcannon out the rest of the year - it's a great way to kick up your fall or winter sides. (Especially since it was originally a Halloween dish!) Since fresh kale is available from California year-round, you could make it anytime. However, the best season for kale is late winter through spring, and that's when warm, comforting mashed potatoes make sense too.
What to serve with these Mashed Potatoes, Irish and more:
Oven-Roasted Lamb Chops
Lamb is popular in Ireland, making it a perfect companion for Irish mashed potatoes.
Wondering how to cook lamb chops in the oven? These Lamb Chops with Spicy Apricot Sauce are delicious and cooked the easiest way!
Our Favorite Shepherd's Pie
This comforting Shepherd’s Pie recipe is one of my family's favorites. Mashed potatoes, meaty gravy, and veggies all in one, what's not to love?
While you may not want to serve it with the Colcannon, using Irish Mashed Potatoes to top this Emerald Isle classic will be fabulous the next day!
Kale Salad with Cranberries and Pumpkin Seeds
Since kale holds up well, this salad keeps for 2-3 days in the fridge, so it's great for batch cooking/meal prepping/lunches, and for dinner parties too.
Need dessert? Try a Shamrock Shake or this Bourbon Chocolate Mint Shake. If you've got kiddos, mix up a batch of this non-alcoholic Mint Milkshake, too!
Let's make mashes potatoes Irish style! Colcannon, here we come.
- 4 russet potatoes cleaned, peeled and cut into 2 inch chunks
- ½ cup unsalted butter divided (one stick)
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 2 leeks cleaned and whites thinly sliced
- 2 bunches kale stems removed and chopped
- ⅔ cup chicken or vegetable broth make sure it's gluten-free if needed!
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Place the potato chunks in a large pot and fill with water to cover.
- Bring the potatoes to a boil on medium-high heat and continue to boil until the potatoes are fork tender, 20-25 minutes.
- Place 6 tablespoons of butter, cream and garlic in a small saucepan and bring up to a simmer on medium-low heat. Cover to keep hot.
- In a large saute pan melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter on medium heat and saute the leeks for about 1 minute.
- Add the kale to the leeks and continue to saute for an additional 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Pour the broth over the kale and leek mixture, stir and cover.
- Allow the mixture to cook until the kale has wilted and the liquid has cooked off, about 7 minutes.
- Once the potatoes are fork tender, drain them and place them back into the pot.
- Begin mashing the potatoes, while adding the cream mixture a little at a time, until the potatoes are smooth and creamy. Season with salt and pepper.
- Fold the leeks and wilted kale into the potatoes, adjust the seasoning and serve.
Photos: Meg van der Kruik
Consider this a crash-course in mashed potatoes Irish style.
Seriously, though. Colcannon is just plain delicious.
Frequently Asked Questions about Colcannon:
No, Colcannon and Bubble and Squeak are different dishes with similar ingredients. Bubble and Squeak is more like a potato cake, where potatoes and cabbage are cooked together and fried. Colcannon is a creamy mashed potato dish made with kale or cabbage mixed in, along with dairy and garlic, leeks or onions.
Colcannon is made with kale or cabbage, Champ is made with fresh spring onions.
No. Russet potatoes are a variety of potatoes common in both the U.S. and through Europe, known for their tender flesh and rough brown skin. Several varieties of potatoes grown in both Ireland and the U.S. - Irish potatoes are often yellow or red skinned, although they often use russet style for smooth mashed potatoes. So the term Irish potatoes really refers to where they are grown, or the style they are cooked in. Colcannon, Champ, or Bubble and Squeak are all common dishes made with potatoes.
Traditional Colcannon, or mashed potatoes Irish style, can be made with cabbage or kale. Both are historically correct and delicious.
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