Thursday, March 13

Irish Colcannon

My Twist On An Old Favorite

It’s March and nearly St. Patrick’s Day.  For our March book club we're reading Angela’s Ashes, which discusses food a lot, including cabbage and potatoes.  (Or more, the lack of them).

Although my family enjoys this dish throughout the year, its most commonly associated with St. Patrick’s Day.  Colcannon is a unique and simple potato dish and is unmistakably an Irish comfort food.
It traditionally includes green cabbage mixed with hot, floury mashed potatoes and butter. Let’s not forget the butter.  Potatoes came to Ireland from South America, and by 1688, they had become a staple of the Irish diet.

A little of my 2013 home grown potato crop
The Irish call potatoes "praties;" and according to many experts, a diet of potatoes and milk will supply all the nutrients the human body needs.

The potato has long been a staple food for the poor, and throughout Ireland’s difficult history, its people have relied heavily on it for subsistence. Potatoes contain carbohydrates, protein, calcium, and niacin and are easy to grow and store. In 1845, a fungus disease hit the Irish potato crop, causing a famine which killed millions of people. To escape starvation, nearly a million Irish were forced to immigrate, primarily to the United States. 

The word colcannon is from the old Gaelic which literally means "white-headed cabbage."

A few years back I started adding sausage right into the colcannon and have not turned back since.  This is great as a side dish but is hearty enough for a stand alone meal.   As an added bonus, serve with a Guinness and fresh homemade warm bread on the side.

For traditional Colcannon, leave out the bratwurst.


5 to 6 russet potatoes
1 head cabbage (or kale)
1 large onion, chopped
2 packages of bratwurst (about 10)
Real Butter
½ to 1 C. milk or cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh Parsley for garish (or use dried parsley leaves)

The key and time saver is to get everything cooking at once, and then mixes them all together while still hot!
Cook brats until done.  I use Johnsonville Brats, the absolute best! I usually put them on the gas grill to cook while preparing everything else. Just keep an eye on them.
While brats are cooking, peel and quarter potatoes and cook just until tender.
While potatoes are cooking, core and quarter cabbage. Slightly separate cabbage leaves and steam in about ¼ pot of water just until tender.

Steam cabbage just until tender

Don’t forget to check the brats!
Chop onion and sauté in butter until tender and browning around the edges.

Saute onions

When potatoes are done, using a potato masher, slightly mash potatoes with butter and add ½ to 1 cup of milk.  Do not use a mixer, it is best to leave potato chunks.

Smash the potatoes, leaving chunks and pieces

When brats are cooked, slice into 1 inch pieces.

Cut up bratwurst

When cabbage is tender, drain well.
Gently mix cabbage, butter, onion, brats, a little salt and pepper and if using them, the dried parsley leaves in a large mixing bowl. 

Mix everything together, don't forget the butter

Add smashed potatoes to the cabbage mixture and stir all together. 
Arrange the Irish Colcannon on a large serving dish.  Add slices of butter or make a well and pour melted butter into the well.  Garnish with sprigs of parsley if desired. 


Yum, this is delicious!

If waiting for guests to arrive or trying to finish other dishes, place Colcannon in a crock pot on low until ready to serve.

Other Posts:

St Patty's Day and Sauerkraut Balls

History of St. Patrick's Day

St. Patrick's Day Cookies

This recipe was also featured in the Spring 2014 OUT HERE magazine.

Erin Go Bragh, 

Here's to a long life and a merry one.
A quick death and an easy one.
A handsome man and an honest one.
A cold beer and another one! 

 May you never lie, steal, cheat or drink.
But if you must lie, lie in each other's arms.
If you must steal, steal kisses.
If you must cheat, cheat death.
And if you must drink, drink with us, your friends.


Susan said...

Hi Elizabeth, I enjoyed your recipe and it sounds really good. I would like to try it. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I am soooo thankful for the Colcannon recipe you recently posted. I made it in honor of St. Paddy's day and found it to be the only thing (cabbage) the baby in my belly likes. My morning sickness this time around has been intense. Today I made it again plus Rodney has been whipping up soups with cabbage for my benefit.

Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...

Thanks! We love it too and is a great tasty way to eat more cabbage. I grow heads of cabbage each year and what we don't eat fresh from the garden I turn into sauerkraut. Glad you like it.

Anonymous said...

I can see how this blog could very quickly become famous due to the nice articles and reviews!

Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...

Well I don't know about that but I like that you said it!
Hopefully some of the posts help! Thanks for stopping by

Anonymous said...

Bacteria produces at a quick pace at room temperature so make sure that the slow cooker is preheated a bit before combining the meat to your meal from the fridge. To be sure of crock pot food safety use a food thermometer. I like to add a dash of butter a minute before the Potatoes are done. How many households in America have a pressure cooker or crock pot that has never even been used, I wonder?

Elizabeth Ohiothoughts said...

Thanks for the crock pot tips. In this recipe the meat has already been cooked before placing in the crock pot, but I have to say. I for one have been using a crock pot for, gosh, 30 years? (have they been around that long?) and most of the time I'm adding raw meat as in a roast or stew meat directly into the pot and we have never once had a problems with illness from anything cooked in a crock pot. It may have to do with the high temps I set it at in the beginning for a couple hours, then reduce heat and slow cook all day. I actually have never heard of crock pot food illness from anyone we know but I'm sure, like with anything there could be problems. Thanks for commenting!