Friday, November 2, 2012

Love child: Colcannon - potatoes and greens

Colcannon is a delicious mashed mixture of potatoes and greens that was born in Ireland. Traditionally kale or cabbage is used, but I have used anything from spinach to swiss chard or beet greens. I don't think I know anyone who doesn't like mashed potatoes, so this is a great way to take up the nutrition a notch and introduce some new flavors to your dinner table.

Potatoes have much of their nutrition in their peels, especially the fiber. However, most folks prefer to use peeled potatoes for their mashed potatoes. I compromised and "half-peeled" my potatoes. I guess I was feeling indecisive :)

There are many recipes available and the ratios of potatoes to greens are flexible. I found that many recipes were pretty loaded with butter, so I cut that down and added some olive oil too with good results.

If you are going to serve someone you think might panic as the sight of green mashed potatoes, try reading Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss first. Or, simply start low the first time you make the dish and add more greens each time.

 

Colcannon
4 large main dish servings or 6-8 side dish servings
  • 4 medium baking potatoes, scrubbed and peeled (or not peeled, or half-peeled)
  • a few cups of chopped greens - kale, spinach, swiss chard tat soi and beet greens are all delicious
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 tablespoons milk (or more, or less)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Peel potatoes (or not) and chop into chunks. Place in medium sauce pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Check after 10 minutes to see if potatoes are very tender when poked with a fork - if not, keep cooking until they are!
  2. Meanwhile, prepare your greens. Are they dirty or sandy? If so, fill your sink or a large bowl with cool water and give them a good swish. Remove any tough stems (I'm especially talking to the kale eaters here) and chop.
  3. In a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil and butter. When butter is melted, add onions and saute for a few minutes or until they begin to become clear and tender. Add greens and stir to prevent them from sticking to the bottom. 
  4. Once potatoes are soft, drain water from sauce pan. Using a potato masher, the bottom of a drinking glass or the back of a large flat spoon mash your potatoes. I like chunks so I don't fuss with this too much. 
  5. To your mashed potatoes, add the cooked greens and milk. Stir, and see if you want to add more milk to make mixture thinner. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Serving suggestions: try as a side dish to some lovely chicken or fish, as the main event with a fried egg on top (vegetables for breakfast, anyone?) or in place of plain mashed potatoes anywhere.




Mixture of beet greens and kale


Reader poll: have you tried colcannon before? What greens do you like to use?

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