Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Potatoes are an Irish staple,  sometimes referred to as “Irish Ice Cream". With St. Patrick's Day just around the corner, what could be better than a recipe for that most iconic of Irish food, colcannon. I thought I'd show you a great way to try kale with a different twist on this traditional potato and cabbage dish from the Emerald Isle. Kale is related to cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, collards and Brussels sprouts, so if you like any of those veggies, you will love the milder taste of kale.

To most people, kale, or "farmers cabbage" as my grandma called it, is just an ornamental decoration seen in supermarket display cases, or the useless plate garnish that we toss aside at restaurants. With its ruffled, deep green leaves, kale is a pretty vegetable, but it also has a tender texture and a delicate, mild and slightly sweet taste. It’s a great way to introduce greens to your dinner table.

Colcannon is traditional peasant fare of cabbage mixed in roughly smashed potatoes with lots of butter, salt, and pepper. Intended to be hearty and filling, this is cheap food and it's easy to make and also very tasty too, but my recipe substitutes shredded kale for ordinary cabbage, giving the potatoes a wonderfully festive and speckled green appearance.

There are many varieties of kale, so you'll find it available throughout the year. Before cooking, do a thoroughly good job in washing each leaf in a sink of cool running water to remove any sand, dirt or little hitchhikers that may have hidden in the leaves. Sort the frilly leaves and discard any parts that are yellow, limp or bruised. Here, I use kitchen scissors to cut the leaves into bite-sized pieces. Both the leaves and the stems can be eaten, so I'll freeze the stem parts for another day.

This dish has enough personality to stand up to all kinds of personal touches, so don't hesitate to make it your own by adding sour cream, sautéed leeks, onions, chives, or bits of leftover ham, sausage or bacon. Here's how I did it:
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