Sunday was St. Patrick’s Day, and around here that means corned beef and colcannon. Daughter Miriam is off onions and garlic—although she has recently been OK with just a little green onion. For this meal, I made my regular colcannon for the rest of us and a smaller one adapted for my daughter.
The original recipe for colcannon could be as simple as potatoes with just a little bit of cabbage added. I have changed the recipe in several ways. I boil the potato in chicken stock and load it up with vegetables—leeks, onions, and garlic—in addition to a lot of cabbage. For Miriam, I replace these aromatics with celery and a bit of green onion. If you wanted to eliminate onions entirely you could replace the green onions with carrots.
Karl’s Colcannon without Garlic and Onions
½ lb. small Dutch Gold potatoes (about one cup)
½ cup chicken broth (vegetable broth for vegetarian)
1+ Tbs. butter, separate uses (as much as your diet will allow)
¼ cup celery, diced finely
¼ cup green onions, green parts only, sliced finely
AND/OR ¼ cup carrot, grated
¼ tsp. Kosher salt
1 cup cabbage, shredded fine
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Pare and cut the potatoes into medium chunks.
Tip: Do not remove the potato skins.
2. Boil potatoes in chicken broth until tender, about 15 minutes.
Note: For my meal, I boiled all of the potatoes for both colcannons together and then portioned them out as nneded when I made the separate dishes.
3. Just before potatoes are ready, sauté the celery, carrots—if you are using them—and the salt in the butter in a large skillet until translucent, about 5 minutes.
Tip: The salt draws the liquid out of the vegetables and breaks down the cell walls to speed up the browning and softening of the vegetables.
4. When the celery is soft, add the cabbage to the pan.
5. Continue sautéing, about 5 minutes.
Tip: To speed things along you can add one tablespoon of water or broth from the potato pot and cover the pan for two minutes. The water will steam and wilt the cabbage and make easier to sauté without tossing bits all over the stove.
6. Drain the remaining chicken stock from potatoes into the skillet with the vegetables and cook for a few minutes more, until the broth has reduced by half.
Tip: Put the lid on the potato pot to keep them warm.
7. Add salt and pepper to taste to the vegetables.
8. Smash the potatoes in the pot with a spoon/potato masher/or whisk.
Tip: You do not want smooth mashed potatoes or super large chunks, but something in between.
Note: I have found that a whisk gets a good mix of mashed and varying sized chunks of potato.
9. When the chicken broth has reduced enough, pour the vegetables into the smashed potatoes.
Tip: You do not want your colcannon to be either too soupy or too dry.
10. Add the most of the green onion tops and more butter to taste and fold the vegetables into the potatoes well.
Tip: Do not over mix the potatoes or they will turn “glue-y.”
11. Transfer the colcannon to a serving bowl and garnish with the rest of the green onion tops.
12. (Optional) Make a small “well” in the top of the colcannon and add some more butter to the “well.”
Tip: The butter will melt into a pool filling the “well.” The Irish cooks list this as a very important feature of traditional colcannon.