When ’twas made with yellow cream?
And the kale and praties blended
Like a picture in a dream?
Did you ever take a forkful
And dip it in the lake
Of heather-flavored butter
That your mother used to make?
Oh, you did! Yes, you did!
And so did he, and so did I
And the more I think about it
Sure, the more I want to cry.
God be with the happy times
When troubles we had not
And our mothers made Colcannon
In the three-legged pot!
Hate to burst anyone’s bubble, but Corned Beef & Cabbage is not a traditional Irish dish. And, up until the last 20 or 30 years or so, St. Patrick’s Day was not really all that big a deal in Ireland, either. In fact, St. Patrick’s Day was regarded pretty much as a minor saint’s feast day.
No, all that changed here in America. We made St. Patrick’s Day what it is today, and likewise, today you can find St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and corned beef & cabbage in Ireland, because we expected it.
Nonetheless, if you really want to celebrate with traditional Irish fare, try some Colcannon alongside some poached salmon or tarragon-scented chicken. Oh, and don’t forget the Guinness!
(serves 6-8 as a side-dish)
approx. 1 lb. cabbage or kale
2-3 lbs. potatoes
2 leeks, washed & sliced thinly (white & pale green parts only)
1 cup milk
1 stick (4 oz) butter (preferably Irish)
salt & pepper to taste
In separate pots, cook the cabbage or kale and the potatoes in salted water until tender (approx. 12-15 minutes).
In the meantime, cook the leeks in the milk over medium heat till the leeks are tender (approx. 8-10 minutes).
Chop the cabbage or kale and mash with the cooked potatoes, add the milk with leeks and the butter, salt & pepper to taste, mashing and stirring till well-blended. What you want is a smooth mashed potato consistency with interesting bits of cabbage and leeks throughout.
Make a small indentation on top and put an additional “knob” of butter in it to melt into a little pool.
If you have a pasta pot with a vegetable steamer insert, I boil the potatoes in the pot and steam the cabbage simultaneously.
For extra authenticity – if your friends are single – you can hide a small ring in the Colcannon. Whoever finds it will be the next to marry. Traditionally, the Irish are fond of hiding things in certain foods as portents of things to come during the year. Of course, that’s an optional “ingredient”. 😉