How to Make Irish Colcannon

(Last Updated On: March 16, 2014)

How to Make Irish Colcannon

When people are trying to come up with traditional dishes to cook for holidays it can be overwhelming. A lot of dishes are complicated – difficult to pull off with feeling like you shamed an entire nation. Some have you on an ingredient hunt that takes you to a part of town that you never knew exist (and wish it had stayed that way!). Good news if you are looking for a St. Patrick’s Day food that is traditional and easy to make, then you have arrived at the right place. Colcannon is a simple side dish to make that if you already know how to prepare mashed potatoes then you are already half way there.

To make a good Colcannon I start with these 3 simple ingredients:

Yukon Gold Potatoes
I think Yukon Gold potatoes make for the best Colcannon. They have a rich, buttery flavor and a medium starch level. Normally when I mash up some Yukon I leave the skin on and I did in this case. However for the final dish, I felt the skins along with the additional of our green vegetation would be too much, so the potatoes took a journey through the food mill. The food mill saves me the trouble of peeling the potatoes and it has gives them a pleasingly smooth texture.

Adding Buttermilk
After the potatoes have done there the thing in the food mill, I add a bit of buttermilk to them. The creaminess and the tang the buttermilk brings to the table is a wonderful flavor addition that you should definitely use even if you normally don’t buy buttermilk.

Preparing the Cabbage
The cabbage is best prepared separately. It only needs a few minutes to cook in boiling water with some sugar and salt. I still want the cabbage to be something you need to bite into, not a slimy mess. Before cooking, we shred the cabbage. Here is a very rough video of my wife doing so (after she cut it in half and with the kids talking in the background):

Simple ingredients. Simple flavors. But when they work together they are oh so good!

My Best Irish Colcannon
Recipe Type: Side Dish
Cuisine: Irish
Author: Eric Samuelson
  • 3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 medium sized head of cabbage
  • 4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground white pepper
For the potatoes
  1. Chop the potatoes into small equal sized pieces. Note: Don’t peel them unless you don’t own a food mill.
  2. Put in a pot and add enough water to cover.
  3. Bring to a boil, then simmer until soft.
  4. Process the potatoes through a food mill (if you have one) otherwise mash them with a potato masher.
  5. Add about 1/4 cup of buttermilk and 4 tablespoons of butter. Mix to combine.
  6. Season with kosher salt and white pepper to taste.
For the cabbage
  1. Shred the cabbage. Then wash and drain it in the sink.
  2. Bring a large pot to a boil with 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of sugar.
  3. Add the cabbage.
  4. Boil for 2-3 mintues until the cabbage has soften but is not mushy.
  5. Drain the cabbage and then mix into the prepared potatoes.

I call for white pepper in this recipe for 2 reasons: 1) white pepper won’t stand out in appearance like black pepper 2) The milder flavor of white pepper doesn’t overwhelm the rest of the dish


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