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:

I'm using several different cooking techniques for this recipe, so I'm going to say its probably suitable for someone at an intermediate level of experience in pressure cookery. If you are a novice, you'll need to know how to do Steam Roasting for the garlic, and the PIP method, as well as the Tiered cooking method, to cook all this at the same time. You will need at least a 6qt pressure cooker, an insert pan with holes for steaming, and one insert pan without holes, and a trivet or cooking rack if your insert doesn't have feet.

Bonus Tip = Roasted Garlic
Now, as any garlic lover knows, roasted garlic is one of life's magic inventions. It is sweet and delicious and has to be one of the best tastes in the world... but it takes an hour to roast garlic in the oven. However, using the dry heat of Steam Roasting in the pressure cooker, we can have our garlic fix in about 5 minutes. It's a miracle! Don't peel the cloves, just rub off the papery skin and place the garlic well above the waterline.

For my Kale Colcannon recipe I'm just going to lay the cloves on top of the foil covering the top tier pan of kale. Done, and I just snip off one end of each clove and pop out that rich tasting, golden morsel. Oh... just imagine the endless possibilities of using 5-minute roasted garlic on garlic bread, sandwiches, pork and beef, or Italian sauces.

After the cooker is depressurized, the tender kale is sautéed in butter. You can use the pressure cooker to do this and save a little cleanup, but I used a skillet. Why, you ask; because the combination of a real short cook and a very tall pressure cooker is an insurmountable… er, shortcoming. This step took about 3-4 minutes, and you'll be amazed at how little kale actually remains.
Add the buttery sautéed kale and the roasted garlic to the smashed potatoes and fold in with a spatula, until everything looks well blended.

I used sea salt with this recipe. I dunno... Maybe it's just my imagination, but do you think sea salt adds a better taste than plain table salt?

Roughly smashed potatoes are flavored with roasted garlic and blended with buttery, sautéed kale to tweak this dish and make it far more interesting than just another ho-hum, bland bowl of mashed potatoes.

Step 1

2 lbs (about 4 medium) russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
1 bunch kale, washed with the ribs removed and the leaves cut into pieces
4-5 garlic cloves
1/2 stick butter softened to room temperature
1/3 cup milk

Pour 1/2 cup water into a large pressure cooker. Place the cut potatoes in a steamer basket and lower it into the bottom of the pressure cooker as the lower tier. If necessary, use a cooking rack to elevate the potatoes above the waterline. Place the cut kale into a plain insert pan (one without holes) and crimp a square of aluminum foil to cover the top. Arrange the second tier pan with the kale on top of the potatoes. Place the unpeeled garlic cloves on top of the foil covering the kale. Lock the lid in place. Bring to 15psi over high heat, immediately reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting to stabilize and maintain that pressure. Cook 4 minutes. Remove from heat and use the natural release method before opening the lid.

Step 2

Snip off one end of each garlic clove and pop out the buttery soft goodness inside. Mash to a smooth consistency and add to the potatoes. Add the softened butter, and season the potatoes with lots salt and a very generous amount of fresh, coarsely ground black pepper. I use a stand mixer with the dough mixing attachment to smash my potatoes, slowly adding just enough milk to get the desired consistency. For better control, you might want to smash your potatoes with a potato masher or a fork, but if you do opt for a mixer, be careful and just pulse the power or you'll go from homey and rustic, coarsely smashed potatoes, to a glob of gluey potato starch in the blink of an eye. Depending on your preferences, the potatoes should have a coarse texture with lots of bean-sized potato lumps in the creamer mix.

Step 3

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in the bottom the pressure cooker, or use a skillet. Sauté the cooked kale over medium heat, stirring as it wilts down to about a quarter of its volume. Stir the sautéed kale into the smashed potatoes and taste for seasoning. Transfer to a serving dish.

Cook's Notes:
If you're not a big fan of curly kale, you can always fall back on the more traditional cabbage for this recipe, or even substitute some other type of leafy greens such as spinach, or chard and so forth; it's OK to do your own thing. It's hard to get colcannon wrong, and within the broad guidelines of this recipe, you'll want to add lots more salt and fresh ground pepper than you would normally to really bring out the flavors. Oh, and don't overwork the potatoes, they are supposed to be rough with lots of chunky pieces mixed in with the smooth and creamy parts.
Looking for a pressure cooker recipe for Corned Beef and all the Fixings ?

Cooking Time Chart For Corned Beef

More St. Patrick's Day Recipes for the pressure cooker on my website:

Irish Champ

Irish Potato Farl


Joy said...

Absolutely fabulous!
I am having trouble getting a new sealer ring for my pressure cooker. Cry cry!

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

Delicious!! I made this last night in one pressure cooker while corned beef was cooking in the other one. My first time cooking kale, and your recipe was easy, delicious, and beautiful in the bowl. We all loved it!

carley38 said...

I've never tasted kale, but when I looked at this recipe I had to try it with my leftover potatoes. Boy, you were right, the leaves cooked down a LOT, but they were very tender and tasted almost like nice fresh spinch. I smashed some leftover carrots in with the potatoes and kale and it looked very pretty with all the orange and dark green speckles. It also tasted just as good as it looked and my two kids actually ate greens - woohoo! Thanks for this yummy recipe!

Sabina said...

We have this same recipy in Holland. However we cook a rookworst with it and that gives a lovely flavour and your meat dish as well. We also give a little gravy with is.

Coun't wait for my cooker to arrive.
Many thanks

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