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.
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!
- 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
- Chop the potatoes into small equal sized pieces. Note: Don’t peel them unless you don’t own a food mill.
- Put in a pot and add enough water to cover.
- Bring to a boil, then simmer until soft.
- Process the potatoes through a food mill (if you have one) otherwise mash them with a potato masher.
- Add about 1/4 cup of buttermilk and 4 tablespoons of butter. Mix to combine.
- Season with kosher salt and white pepper to taste.
- Shred the cabbage. Then wash and drain it in the sink.
- Bring a large pot to a boil with 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of sugar.
- Add the cabbage.
- Boil for 2-3 mintues until the cabbage has soften but is not mushy.
- 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