“Did you ever eat colcannon, made from lovely pickled cream?
With greens and scallions mingled like a picture in a dream.
Did you ever make a hole on top to hold the melting flake,
Of the creamy, flavoured butter that your mother used to make?
Yes you did, so you did, so did he and so did I.
And the more I think about it sure the nearer I’m to cry.
Oh, wasn’t it the happy days when troubles we had not,
And our mothers made Colcannon in the little skillet pot.”
Colcannon is one of the most traditional Irish dishes, comprised of cream, kale or cabbage, leeks, good Irish butter and big surprise, the ubiquitous potato. As is often the case, the popularization of this dish is born of necessity to feed the bellies of the working class, although the origins are not as such.
In the early 18th century, cottagers rarely grew cabbage, therefore colcannon was more a treat that anything. Peasants would steal what they needed to prepare this dish for halloween celebrations, or it would be spooned into stockings hung on the doors of unwed ladies homes, hoping the men who turned the knobs would be the one. Some bowls of Colcannon had little charms hidden deep within that unwed ladies would hope to find as an omen of future marriage.
This filling, hardy dish is superb and comforting for days when comfort is needed and calories don’t matter. What better a dish that this for pre-Saint Patrick’s day celebrations when stomach cement is deeply needed. In this version, a sweet pot of golden onions is hidden within the creamy potatoes and bright flecks of green onion and parsley just might bless you with the luck of the Irish.
4 large russet potatoes
4 strips bacon, diced
2 tbsp butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large leek, whites and pale green parts only, halved & thinly sliced
3 cups kale, stems removed, roughly chopped
1 cup milk
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup heavy cream
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup extra old cheddar, grated
2 tbsp butter
1 Spanish onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup Italian flat-leaf parsley
2 green onions, thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 400 F. Pierce the potatoes all over with a fork or a sharp knife.
Bake the potatoes on the middle rack for 1 hour until skins are crisp and potatoes are knife tender. Let cool 10 minutes.
Slice potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop out the flesh, careful not to break through the skin. Whip potatoes with beaters or a stand mixer until light & fluffy.
Brush potato skins with butter, bake 10 minutes until very crispy. Reserve.
Meanwhile, fry bacon in a large saucepan until crispy. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve.
Melt butter into bacon fat, dump in garlic and leeks. Cook 10 minutes on medium-low until fragrant.
Add kale to the leeks, cook, stirring constantly until wilted.
Add milk, sour cream and cream. Bring to a simmer.
Fold in reserved potato careful not to over mix.
Spoon potato mixture into reserved potato skins.
Heat 2 tbsp butter in a small frying pan over medium-low heat.
Sauté onions until deep caramel brown, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Arrange stuffed potatoes on baking sheet, press your thumb into each mound of potato, creating a well. Fill each well with caramelized onions.
Top with grated cheddar.
Bake 10-15 minutes until cheese is bubbly and golden brown.
Sprinkle with reserved bacon & bright green onions & parsley.