Like Guinness, colcannon is pure Ireland. Colcannon is a traditional Irish mashed potato dish that is centuries old. The word colcannon is from the Gaelic “cal ceannann,” which literally means “white-headed cabbage.”
This easy-to-make side dish, with many local variations, gets its flavor from shredded cabbage or kale and onions. It is often eaten with boiled ham, corned beef or Irish bacon. It can be eaten any time of the year, but is most often considered an autumn dish because that is when kale is harvested.
An old Irish Halloween tradition is to serve colcannon with charms hidden in the green-flecked fluffy potatoes. The charms were seen as predictions of your future in the coming year. A button meant you would remain a bachelor, and a thimble meant you would remain a spinster. A ring meant you would get married, and a coin meant you would come into money. Women sometimes filled their socks with colcannon and hung them from the handle of the front door in the belief that the first man through the door would be their future husband.
Colcannon is thought to have come to America in the 1800s, brought over by many Irish immigrants. This version of the well-loved recipe is super-simple and quick to make, because it is made with prepared mashed potatoes from the grocery.
Irish Potatoes Colcannon
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 package prepared mashed potatoes (about 2 lbs.)
1/4 cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large saucepan, heat cabbage (or kale) and water until the water boils. Cover the saucepan with a lid and reduce the heat to medium. Cook for eight to ten minutes or until the cabbage is soft. Drain the remaining water. Cover the cabbage to keep it warm, and set it aside.
In the saucepan, melt the butter. Add the onions, and cook until the onions are lightly golden and soft, stirring frequently. Stir in the prepared mashed potatoes, cooked cabbage and milk. Cook over low heat until the potatoes are heated all the way through. Season with salt and pepper.
This recipe serves six and only takes about twenty minutes to make. Colcannon is an easy dish to adapt–you can add cheddar cheese or crumbled bacon to it. I used a yellow onion in my dish, but I sprinkled green scallions on the top for color and additional flavor.
So delicious–colcannon is going to be my new comfort food indulgence! My family left the bowl absolutely empty with requests to have it again soon!