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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Colcannon - An Irish Halloween Tradition



From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Colcannon, a traditional Irish dish associated with Halloween, is made with potatoes and savoy cabbage and served with a well of butter in its center. It's simple and delicious and comes with folklore that's sure to please the curious or superstitious. The tale, as told to me, concerns the fate of unmarried women who would put the first and last spoonfuls of Halloween colcannon into a stocking and hang it on their doors. Their shared belief was that the first man who walked through the door would become their husband. Immigration statistics and the birth rate, all those years ago, lead me to believe this didn't work real well. Back then, the ingredients used to make colcannon could be found in any Irish country garden. The second bit of blarney revolved around the selection of a cabbage from that garden by a blindfolded, unmarried woman. The cabbage she selected would be used to make a colcannon into which a ring was hidden. Of course, the person who found the ring would be the next to marry. I must warn you that my recipe for colcannon uses classic ingredients but techniques that my grandmother would frown upon. There are two or three steps to assembling any colcannon. The meat, if used, should be cooked before the potatoes and the cabbage are started. I use a slab of bacon to make mine. Ham can also be used. I simmer it in water for about 45 minutes before dicing it. My potatoes are conventional enough, though I do steam rather than boil them. I prefer to cook my cabbage in a wok. It's the easiest way I know to assure crisp tender greens that aren't water logged. When it all is assembled it looks like a traditional colcannon, but there will be a hint of smoke to play against crisp cabbage. Here's the recipe.

Colcannon ...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite

Ingredients:
1 pound unsliced slab bacon or ham
3 pounds boiling potatoes
2 sticks + 3 tablespoons butter, divided use
1-1/4 cups light cream or milk
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 medium head savory cabbage, cored and shredded
1/2 cup chopped scallions

Directions:
1) Place bacon or ham in pot. Cover with water by 1-inch. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes. Remove from water. Allow to cool. Dice. Refrigerate if not to be used immediately.
2) Scrub potatoes and place on a steamer rack. Bring water in steamer to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer potatoes for 30 minutes. Peel and force potatoes through a ricer into a large bowl. Add 1 stick butter, cut into small dice, into potatoes. Mash to combine. Add salt and pepper to milk. Slowly add hot milk to potato mixture, beating with a spoon. Cover bowl. Keep warm.
3) While potatoes steam, add 3 tablespoons butter to wok. Add cabbage and stir fry over high heat until mixture is crisp tender, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
4) Add cabbage, bacon and scallions to potatoes. Mix well. Place an equal portion of colcannon in each of six soup bowls.
5) Melt reserved stick of butter in a small pan or in microwave. Form a well in center of each bowl of potatoes. Spoon melted butter into well. Serve hot. Yield: 6 servings.

52 comments :

Joy said...

Great to hear about this tradition! And Yum!

Mary said...

Love this dish, and I'm with ya on the bacon, but never heard the tale before! Thanks for sharing.

KathyB. said...

Your home must always smell delicious.Your picture shows you to be slim, how do you accomplish that with all the very good food?

As you wrote about preparing Colcannon, you talked about your mother's way and the tradition. I share similar ways with making lefse. I know there are other ways of preparing it, but I hold to the way my grandmother taught me and it always turns out..however there are no superstitions attached to my making of lefse. Was your grandmother straight from Ireland?

Seems the Irish have a great many superstitions regarding food, love, and marriage, but then food, love, and marriage pretty much sum up most of our goals in life!

Katy ~ said...

Colcannon, food for the soul! Grew up on this. Love it, love it, love it!

Martha said...

Those Celts -- they have wonderful stories about everything! I didn't know that Colcannon was a Halloween food --

. said...

This looks very good.
Alfazema

My Carolina Kitchen said...

I'm not familiar with Colcannon. If it has potatoes in it, I know I'll love it. What a fun tradition. It will be Halloween before we know it.
Sam

Bellini Valli said...

Loved to hear about the "blarney" associated with this classic dish. I love colcannon, I don't know why I only make it on "St. Paddy's" Day?

Cathy said...

Interesting background about this very tasty dish. Cream, potatoes and bacon, one can't go wrong with this combo.

SnoWhite said...

what a unique tradition. These look really good.

A Year on the Grill said...

wicked good lookin

And a great story to go with it

Mary said...

KathyB, My Grandmother was born in the United State, but just barely. Family lore insists she was born on board a ship in New York Harbor. She loved the story and never tried to dissuade those who told it. Her family settled in Detroit and she married young, at 16, to a man who was a union organizer. Her life was easier than that of most 1st generation immigrants, but she never forgot her roots.

George Gaston said...

A bit of blarney contributes to an Irish tale…

So, Mary, dish up more Colcannon, because it sounds like my new comfort food!

Selba said...

I like the picture of this dish, it looks so delicious!

What an interesting tale about the fate of unmarried women and the colcannon dish. Too bad the statistic didn't show it is true if not then probably I would like to give it a try ;)

Coralie Cederna Johnson said...

These looks scrumptious! Love your blog! So happy we discovered each other! Have a lovely day!

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

Did you put a ring in there? ;-)
I love the combo of bacon, potatoes and cabbage - and the butter is a little touch of heaven in the center!

ButterYum said...

The Irish in me has been longing for a good Colcannon recipe... I have a feeling this is it!

Take care,
ButterYum

Charlene said...

What a fun Post Mary! Sounds yummy! I tried you Apple Cranberry Crumb only I made it Peach beacuse I had about 7 Peaches that needed using. YUMMMO! I highly recommend the crumb topping with ANY fruit on hand. THANKS FOR SHARING!!!!

The Fajdich Times said...

Yum these potatoes sound very good. Loved the story. Thanks for sharing:)

Beverly said...

Mary, I really enjoyed this post. I've always heard of colcannon, but I had never read the stories behind it.

And, this sounds and looks delicious.

Toni said...

Awesome! I was just wondering what to do with the cabbage from the garden. That recipe looks so good!

foodcreate said...

Delicious ! What a wonderful Tradition I will share with my family ...


Have a wonderful Day ~~

Donetta said...

Well now with our 100* + temps leaving us I will have to come by more often for your awesome inspirations.
Interesting about the pumpkin.

heartnsoulcooking said...

Never heard of this tradition, but the recipe sounds and looks wonderful. I think I will start this tradition, just for the recipe. THANKS!!! Geri

Joycee said...

My love for Colcannon is greater than my love for chocolate...
SCARY GOOD!

Wandering Chopsticks said...

I love the story behind this dish. Although, imagine the mess from cleaning colcannon out of a sock. Hmm. Worth the work if it lands me a husband, perhaps? ;)

Wanna add this dish to Weekend Wokking? We're doing cabbage this month. :)

Just noticed the new photos of your grandsons. They are getting so big! And just as cute as ever.

Boo-Bah said...

What an interesting tradition and history behind this recipe. It really sounds delicious and it is one I am going to try.

You are certainly an inspiration. Visiting here always makes me want to try something new and to just cook more than I have been.

Thank you for being so nice and for always visiting my blog. You always leave such nice comments.

Have a wonderful day.

Iris

Heidi said...

What can I say, that sounds delicious. We German girls never say no to potatoes or cabbage!
Yum! I was taught to make a "Farmers Breakfast" with the same ingredients as the Colcannon, only potatoes are sliced - you can't go wrong with those ingredients!! Okay, now I'm hungry.
Thanks for stopping by, I hope you'll come back again soon.
XO
Heidi - Heart and Home

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

This looks delicious! I love colcannon, but I have never seen such beautiful photos of it!

the ungourmet said...

I love reading about folklore. This was fun! I think the recipe sounds wonderful as well especially with all of the yummy butter in the middle. :D

Pam said...

Anything with a well of butter must be good. This is my kind of comfort food.

Alyssa said...

Yum! Honestly, if it has mashed potatoes in any form, my husband is happy to try it.

Donna-FFW said...

This is the most delicious post of food I saw all day. Id LOVE to try this. Everything in it sounds perfect!

Claudia said...

What a wonderful dish and a wonderful story to accompany it. I love how many foods have tales.

Jean Stockdale said...

Once again you have managed to make food look so inviting using pictures and words!!Thanks for sharing.

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a note. Hope to see you next week. Happy OW.

Blessings.

susan said...

This is a new one for me, but I love foods with legends and tradition. I love potatoes and love cabbage so I can't imagine not liking this!

Helene said...

Oh my bacon and potatoes, so delicious. What a great recipe.

Amy said...

I love cooking with freah cabbage. Just another great recipe by you to try. Looks yummy.

fun games for kids said...

Colcannon looks great. Wish I could try it. Anyway, I like the story of Colcannon as well.

Baking Monster said...

what a great tale to go along with a great dish I have never heard of it which is weird because im irish thanks for the recipe.

Maggie B said...

I love to make Colcannon and we eat it many times during the winter months,when Savoy cabbages are at their best. I've never added bacon to my dish but will try that next time.
Maggie

Olga said...

Not sure I'm going to hang it outside of my door, but being Russian I grew up with various combinations of cabbage and potatoes: this dish looks great (especially with bacon)

Carrie said...

This looks really wonderful! Colcannon is on my list of foods to try.

Vickie's Michigan Garden (my backyard) said...

Mary,
Now these look so delicious and we have a head of cabbage left in the garden to in them. perfect!!
Having a great day
vickie

noble pig said...

This year I swore I would be making colcannon! Yum!

Little Ms Blogger said...

Bacon, butter and potatoes what could be more heavenly.

Thanks for posting.

Kate said...

My daughter raves about this dish but I have never tried it. I sent her your link. This looks wonderful (great combo of flavors...) and I am going to make it!

lk - healthy delicious said...

yummy! I've had colcannon many times before, but never realized it was a Halloween tradtion.

Lori said...

I have never seen colcannon look so amazing. You have convinced me to give it a go again!

Tanna at The Brick Street Bungalow said...

colcannon is a new dish to me... but one i'm looking forward to trying out! thank you, Mary! blessings ~ tanna

Carmie of the Single Nester said...

Anything with potato I love.

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