We always love it when March rolls around, and not just because we're all tired of winter! It's because we know St. Patty's Day is coming soon and that means we'll get to eat one of our all-time favorite dishes, colcannon. No corned beef and cabbage dinner is complete without the addition of this delicious mashup of mashed potatoes and mixed greens. In this recipe, you're also getting sneak previews of two great dishes from our Feel Good Food Cookbook: our Creamy Mashed Potatoes and our Leafy Mixed Greens.
Colcannon (or "colchannon”), a St. Patrick’s Day specialty, is extremely popular in Ireland and is much the same today as it's been for centuries. It was traditionally eaten at Halloween, a fast day when you weren't allowed to eat meat. The name derives from cal ceann fhionn -- white-headed cabbage. Whatever the history, no meal celebration of this jovial holiday is complete without a big heaping portion of colcannon next to your corned beef and cabbage. Enjoy!
The correct way to make colcannon (according to Irish tradition) is with chopped kale (a member of the cabbage family) but it can also be made with white cabbage and potatoes.
1 recipe mashed potatoes (below)
2 cups mixed greens (recipe below)
1 large leek
1/2 pint heavy cream
4 tablespoon butter
salt and pepper
Trim only the toughest parts of the outer portion of the leek, and slice thinly placing into a large bowl of water to clean. Gently remove from the water allowing any sand and grit to settle and put into a sauce pan with the butter. Slowly cook until almost tender, about 8-10 minutes. Add the cream and allow to simmer for a few more minutes.
Make the mashed potatoes and greens according to the recipes below. Chop the cooked greens a bit more and mix into the mashed potatoes along with the creamy leeks and serve. If the finished dish seems a bit to stiff simply add some hot milk mixing in until you acheive the desired consistency.
Perfect Mashed Potatoes
2 1/2 lbs Carola or Yukon Gold potatoes
3/4 cup milk
freshly grated nutmeg
4 oz cold butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup sour cream
Peel and cut potatoes into similarly sized chunks so they cook evenly. Place them into a pot of heavily salted water, bring to a boil, and simmer for about 20 minutes. They should be tender but not mushy. Do not overcook! Drain the potatoes in a colander, reserving the cooking water.
Heat the milk with a bit of grated nutmeg. (Heavy cream or half-and-half are good for many things but far too rich for mashed potatoes.) Never melt the butter with the milk. The butter must be incorporated cold, bit by bit, into the potatoes. Now fit your food mill over a pot and begin to crank the potatoes through it. Add a bit of hot milk to keep things moving while pushing with a spatula. Continue adding potatoes, butter, and milk until everything has passed through the food mill or potato ricer.
Using a large wooden spoon or something similar, mix in sour cream until the potatoes are fluffy. Season with salt to taste. You may add a bit of the reserved potato water, if you feel the mixture is too thick or if you’re not serving immediately; mashed potatoes tend to firm up as they stand.
Mixed Leafy Greens
Serves 6 or more
This method of quickly and easily cooking any type of leafy green makes quick work out of what can seem a tedious task. It will rapidly reduce an unwieldy mound into a manageable and tasty side dish. This technique works for any combination of spinach, collards, broccoli rabe, or even escarole.
1 bunch kale (about 1 lb)
1 bunch Swiss chard (about 1 lb)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/4 cup currants or golden raisins (optional)
2 tablespoons pine nuts (optional)
3 or 4 anchovies, chopped (optional)
2 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar (optional)
1/2 cup Garlic Confit (pg 236; optional)
Remove the tough, fibrous stems of the kale by holding on to the stalk and stripping the leaves. The tender portion of the stem will come off with the leaves; discard the tough stems. For Swiss chard, slice the stems crosswise into 1" pieces, clean, and put to the side. Fill a large sink with water, submerge the greens, and allow to soak for 10 minutes so sand and grit drop to the bottom. Carefully remove greens to a colander so as not to disturb the dirt that has settled; otherwise you might have to wash a second time.
For coarser greens, such as collard greens, you will want to finely chop them. If using delicate greens such as chard may simply be coarsely chopped. Broccoli rabe may be treated similar Swiss chard, the leafy tops will cook faster than the thicker stems.
Heat a large soup pot or casserole dish over medium to high heat and add olive oil and garlic. Immediately add chard stems (if using chard) and then the rest of the clean greens with the water still clinging to their leaves to prevent the garlic from browning. Season with a good pinch of salt, cover, and let greens steam 3–4 minutes. Lift the lid and peak in after a minute or so and swish everything around to ensure nothing is sticking to the bottom or burning.
Once the greens are soft, remove the lid and continue cooking until the water has evaporated and they’re cooking in just olive oil. If you are using currants, pine nuts, and/or anchovies, add them at this point, along with the vinegar continuing to cook until the greens are tender. These simple additions can elevate what is known in the South as “a mess o’ greens” into something more sophisticated. The whole process shouldn’t take more than 8-10 minutes, depending on the size of your pot and the heat of your burner.
Add salt to taste and serve immediately. It is by no means necessary, but if you have garlic confit on hand, it also dresses up those greens. Serve with roast chicken, pork, or with rice and beans.