It doesn’t get any more Irish than this dish. It is potatoes, cabbage, green onions, cream and butter, all mixed together. Colcannon is traditionally made from mashed potatoes and kale or cabbage with scallions, butter, salt and pepper. It can contain other ingredients such as cream, milk, leeks, onions, or chives. At one time it was a cheap, year-round staple food, though now it is usually eaten in the autumn/winter.
An old Irish Halloween tradition was to serve colcannon with prizes of small coins concealed in it, as the Irish, English and Scots do with Christmas pudding.
The song “Colcannon”, also called “The Skillet Pot”, is a traditional Irish song that has been recorded by many artists. It begins:
Well did you ever make colcannon,
made with lovely pickled cream
With the greens & scallions mingled
like a pitcher in a dream?
Did you ever make a hole on top
to hold the meltin’ flake
Or the creamy flavoured butter
that our mother’s used to make?
Oh you did, so you did
so did he and so did I
And the more I think about it
sure the nearer I’m to cry.
Oh weren’t them the happy days
when troubles we knew not
And or mother made colcannon
in the little skillet pot.
Despite only being Irish by way of marriage, I decided to make colcannon for a late lunch. The real Irishman in the house passed on the colcannon, opting for a bagel and cream cheese instead. Go figure. I used Yukon gold potatoes, cabbage, scallions, butter and cream. It was wonderful. Here’s my recipe.
- 6 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
- Salted water
- 1 cup green cabbage, sliced into strips
- 3 scallions, diced
- 4 TBS butter
- ¼ to ½ cup cream
- Butter, salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- In a medium saucepan, boil diced potatoes in salted water until fork tender. Pour into colander to drain. While the pot is till hot, add the 4 TBS butter and melt over low heat. Add the cabbage, scallion, salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat until the cabbage is tender but still a bit crunchy. While the cabbage is cooking use a fork or potato masher to smash the potatoes, leaving some lumps. Pour the hot cabbage mixture into the potatoes and stir to combine. Add cream until you reach the desired consistency. Return to pot and reheat if necessary. Serve with a well in the center to hold a pat of butter. Season with salt and pepper.