Colcannon…a Winter Staple

Well, maybe staple is too strong of a word. These days, nothing is really a staple.  I don’t know if I could even tell you the last five things I cooked.  Other than bread (which if we are being technical, I know, it is baking, but I am not into technicalities).  Bread has been my staple.  But I am trying to break that habit.  Thus far successful.  I have not baked a loaf of bread since Thanksgiving.

Colcannon.  My mother mentioned it the other day.  It is a word that creates instant craving.  A word that stays in my head until it has been satisfied.  Colcannon is one of those dishes I was introduced to later in life and was sold from the first bite. A simple dish of potatoes and cabbage, it is easy to cook. Rustic, basic, delicious. My only experience and knowledge with Colcannon is from Jane Brody’s “Good Food Book”. For me, that is all I know. Her’s is not the authentic (apparently, traditionally it is made sans the cheese and milk but I can’t imagine it without).  So, this recipe is an adaptation of an adaptation.  And with a French twist to an Irish classic.


serves 6

  • 1 3/4 lb russet potatoes, washed and left whole
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 c green cabbage, chopped
  • 2 c dinosaur kale, chopped (or similar hearty variety)
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup + 2 Tbs whole milk
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 5 oz gruyere, shredded
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste

Begin by bringing a pot of lightly salted water to boil.  Add the bay leaves and whole, unpeeled potatoes.  Cook until they are tender and not overcooked and mushy.  Remove from water (but do not drain water) along with bay leaves,  setting aside potatoes to cool.  Discard the bay leaves.

Add the cabbage, kale, and onions to the potato water and boil for 5 minutes under tender.  Drain the vegetables.

Once the potatoes are cool and can be handled, peel of the skin.  Place in a bowl and add the milk and butter and mash until smooth.  (I actually don’t mind if they aren’t completely smooth…it adds a little texture.)

Add the cheese and nutmeg to the potatoes and mix until combined.  Add the vegetables and again mix.  Season with salt and pepper as desired and transfer to a casserole dish.

Heat in the oven at 375 until it begins to slightly brown on top and is heated through.