Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Irish for a day

Savoy Cabbage by Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

Oh, what with shaking imaginary shillelaghs and adding o's to everyone's surname, it's impossible to avoid the silliness of St. Patrick's Day for very long. Lucky for me, real Irish food is worth putting on the table. Beyond the ubiquitous Irish Soda Bread, which will be featured here in a few days, there is colcannon, cabbage cooked in milk and stirred into mashed potatoes. It is fortifying and filling on a rainy day, making me long for the land of my ancestors, the O'Mercer's.

Potatoes by Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

The colcannon recipe I use is adapted from the Gourmet Cookbook, and it's about as easy as it gets: two pots on the stove: in the first, boil peeled potatoes just like you would for the weeknight mash. In the second, simmer a half head of chopped green cabbage in milk and butter. Drain the potatoes, mash, add the cabbage mixture, season and prepare for a

Colcannon by Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

If you add leeks or green onions to this dish, it's called champ. I like the oniony way, myself, but my kids went crazy for the allium-less version. They call this "Irish mashed potatoes."

2 pounds (about 7 medium) Russet or all-purpose potatoes
1 cup milk (I used whole milk)
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1/2 large head of Savoy cabbage, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (I go easy on this because of the kiddos)

1. Peel potatoes and cut into 2-inch dice. Place in a saucepan or Dutch oven and cover with cold water. Over medium heat, bring to a simmer and let potatoes cook until tender (as tested with a sharp knife). This takes about 20 minutes.

2. In another saucepan, combine milk, butter, chopped cabbage, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and let cook until tender, about 15 minutes. (If you're making champ, here's where you add a washed and chopped leek or a handful of chopped green onions.)

3. Drain potatoes, then mash. I like a rustic mash, with just a few chunks. Gradually add the cooked cabbage to the mixture, stirring until the potatoes and cabbage are united in flavor and texture. The ribbons of celadon cabbage will shimmer in the buttery, creamy potatoes.Serve. Dance a jig. Watch "Riverdance."


Heather Davis said...

I love colcannon potatoes! Will have to give this a go.

Julie M. said...

Colcannon sounds like my type of side! Yum! I'm thinking I'd be an onion girl myself, but I'd definitely eat a hearty bowl no matter which way you cooked it up. Enjoy your St. Pattie's day!

Lucy@acookandherbooks said...

Heather & Julie, thanks for reading, and Happy St. Patrick's Day!