In honor of St. Patrick’s Day I’ve created a wonderful, comforting, traditional Irish dish. Colcannon literally means “white-headed cabbage” and that’s what I received in my CSA box this week. It was the whitest cabbage I’ve ever seen. It’s also the second cabbage in three weeks that’s been in my CSA box. I’m going to have to start thinking outside the box so we don’t get tired of what’s in the box.
Colcannon is peasant food. Not that that’s a bad thing. Most peasant food is delicious. The ingredients were fresh, cheap and readily available. Cabbage, potatoes, milk, butter, cheese and maybe a little onion. What could be better? Not much if you ask me. I went a little wild and added a touch of garlic to mine.
- 3 lb red potatoes, washed and quartered
- ½-¾ head of cabbage, sliced very thinly (about 5 cups)
- ½ white onion, sliced thinly
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
- 4 oz Irish butter, such as Kerrygold, trust me on this and get the Irish butter! (see notes)
- ¾ cup whole milk
- 6 oz white cheddar cheese, grated
- salt and pepper to taste
Boil potatoes in a large pot of salted water. Boil 15-20 minutes, depending on size. While potatoes are boiling, heat 2 T of Irish butter in a large skillet until melted. Add onion and garlic to pan. Sauté over medium-low heat, being careful not to brown, about 5 minutes until onions start to wilt and garlic is fragrant. Add cabbage to pan and stir well to incorporate. Continue cooking over medium-low heat until cabbage is soft, but not mushy. When potatoes are done, drain and pour back into cooking pot. Add butter and milk. Mash potatoes with a wire potato masher. It’s ok to leave some chunks. We’re going for rustic here. Add cheese to potatoes and stir. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add cabbage to potatoes and mix well. Serve with a knob of butter in the center.
- Irish butter (and European butters) have a higher butterfat content than regular American butter (82% versus 80%) and therefore they contain less water and are creamier.
- Irish butter also comes from cows that graze on lush Irish grass as opposed to milk from grain-fed American cows. Therefore, it has a richer, earthier flavor.