My normal version of “colcannon” consists of mashing braised cabbage and leftover potatoes with some cut up sausage. It’s very tasty and quick to make, but it’s not attractive at all as you can imagine. So despite the proximity to St. Patrick’s Day, I wasn’t planning to share a colcannon recipe. That is, until I noticed the leeks were on sale at the supermarket. My plans changed in a hurry.
In it’s most basic form colcannon is mashed potatoes and kale or cabbage seasoned with a little salt and pepper and perhaps some onions and butter. Filling but not very exciting. Adding leeks to the mix changes everything.
We’ve worked with leeks before when making a Leek and Potato Soup. You want to make sure the leeks aren’t gritty but other than that, they’re not difficult to work with. Cut off the dark green leaves (save them to make vegetable broth if you like), then slice the leek bulb in half lengthwise and slice into half moons or rings. Like the aforementioned soup, colcannon is another humble dish which doesn’t need a lot of seasoning to shine. The contrast in color between the greens and the white of the potato make this version much more attractive than my usual plain jane cabbage and spuds.
You should have no trouble finding kale this time of year. Buy organic if you can find it as kale is listed as part of the Dirty Dozen Plus (read more about it here). If you can’t find kale substitute cabbage or a different green.
Colcannon can use a lot of pots and pans as each component is cooked separately. I use my 6 quart dutch oven to cook the potatoes and a large saucepan or skillet for the leeks. Whatever the leeks are cooked in needs to be large enough to mash the potatoes. When the potatoes have been drained, I add them to the leeks and mash them together while wilting the kale in the dutch oven. In the end, it all gets mixed together in the dutch oven. (You’ve probably had to do a similar juggling act for other recipes. I just wanted to give you a heads up in case you wash dishes by hand like I do.)
Pair the colcannon with any meat or other protein you might serve with potatoes. I used my favorite chicken sausage since I rarely have sausage anymore and I love the combination. Press any leftovers into a lightly greased skillet and cook until warmed through and a little crust forms on the bottom. It makes a great savory breakfast.
- One leek, cleaned and sliced into thin half moons or rings
- One pound potatoes, peeled and diced
- 1/2 cup milk more or less
- 2 tablespoons butter, divided
- 2 cups loosely packed kale
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- pinch red pepper flake
- In a large dutch oven, cover the potatoes with water and heat over high heat until boiling. Cook until soft, as for mashing potatoes.
- In another saucepan, add the leeks and milk. You should be able to see the milk, even though the not all the leeks will be covered. Add more milk if necessary but not too much. You’ll use the heated milk to mash the potatoes so it’s better to have less than you think you need and add more when it’s time to mash if necessary.
- Stir in a tablespoon of butter and salt and pepper to taste. Heat the leeks, milk and butter over low heat until the leeks become tender. Hold at very low heat until the potatoes have finished cooking.
- When the potatoes are ready, drain and add them to the leeks along with the remaining tablespoon of butter. Mash the whole lot. Add more milk if needed. Season with more salt and pepper if you like. Set aside.
- Wipe out the dutch oven and heat the olive oil and red pepper flakes over medium heat. Add the kale and stir until coated with oil. Cook until the kale is wilted and tender.
- Add the mashed potatoes and leeks to the kale in the dutch oven and combine.
Colcannon can be a meal unto itself, but if you prefer, serve with your favorite protein, or make a nest of colcannon and lay a fried egg over top. I haven’t tried it, but I’ll bet lentils would be good with colcannon, too.
Do you like kale? How about leeks? (I hope you like leeks because I have a couple more left 🙂 ). Are you able to find either or both of them in your grocery store or farmer’s market?