Colcannon Is The Traditional St. Patrick's Day Dish That Combines 2 Classic Sides

colcannon in a wooden bowl
colcannon in a wooden bowl - vm2002/Shutterstock

If you're looking for an authentic dish to honor Ireland this St. Patrick's Day, colcannon is a historic, symbolic, and delicious dish that combines two staples of Irish cuisine: potatoes and cabbage. Essentially mashed potatoes mixed with cooked cabbage, colcannon has been a classic side dish since the 18th century.

While potatoes may have originated in the Americas, Ireland's cold, wet climate and rich green soils offered the perfect conditions for growing them. Both cabbage and potatoes are essential Irish crops, hearty winter vegetables, and key ingredients in iconic dishes like coddle and boiled bacon and cabbage. Colcannon is a combination of Gaelic words meaning "white-headed cabbage," referring to the original green cabbage mixed into the white mash. The first mention of the dish dates back to the 1700s and has since inspired beloved fortune-telling traditions and children's songs.

As potatoes and cabbage were both harvested in the fall, colcannon was originally a Halloween or Samhain staple. As lore has it, cooks would hide trinkets inside the mashed dish, each signifying different fates. Whichever trinket you fished out of your serving of colcannon would be a veritable fortune telling of the wealth, poverty, love, or hate to come. Today, colcannon is a year-round staple that represents the heart and soul of Irish cuisine, the primary source of their agricultural economy, and, to that extent, the turbulent and triumphant history of the Irish people.

Read more: 23 Types Of Potatoes And When To Use Them

Colcannon Variations And Upgrades

red cabbage colcannon with fried egg
red cabbage colcannon with fried egg - muhammadayaz_4/Shutterstock

Colcannon, like many classic Irish dishes, is a simple, wholesome recipe using cheap, locally-grown staples and a substantial amount of dairy for added richness. While older recipes boiled both potatoes and cabbage separately before marrying the two, this recipe from Tasting Table for traditional Irish colcannon makes a few changes for an even more flavorful take. The first is swapping cabbage for kale, another Irish staple. The second is sauteing the kale with butter and spring onions before mixing it into a pot of standard mashed potatoes.

Even if you want to stick with cabbage, shredding and sauteing it in butter will develop more nuanced caramelized flavors that will pair even better with the earthy savoriness of the potatoes and the richness of milk, butter, or cream. You can swap spring onions for leeks for added sweetness. If you're looking for a more delicate leafy green to stir into mashed potatoes, you can use Swiss chard. Or, mustard greens or shredded Brussels sprouts would bring a peppery bite to the mix. For the ultimate umami upgrade, you can add ham hocks or bacon to colcannon.

If you want to make colcannon the main course, you can top ham hock and kale colcannon with a fried egg. Another idea is to make colcannon cakes by adding egg and flour as a binder, forming the mash into round potato pancakes, and frying them in butter. They'd taste great with a tangy dollop of sour cream and onion dip.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.