Happy Paddy’s Day! The cookery school has closed, parades canceled, pubs closed and, no mass…no mass in Ireland, whaaa? This is significant and scary stuff. So let’s cook and try to stay happy.
What does one do when she is ‘stuck’ (could be much worse!) in Ireland, on St. Patrick’s Day, secluded in the house whilst on-hold with the airline to go home? Make colcannon, that’s what. Let’s make that an easy Twice Baked Colcannon, there, better.
I’ve been making Colcannon for years and recently learned that it’s typically served on Halloween, often with a few little gems hidden inside. Like, if you found a thimble in your Colcannon, you were destined to be a spinster. If you got the button, a lifelong bachelor. I bet those kids had fun that night going trick or treating. 🙂 But it’s St. Patrick’s Day, we are all waiting out the crisis, so let’s do our best to remain sane.
What is Colcannon?
Traditionally, Colcannon is a boiled cabbage and potato dish, with some leeks or spring onions to flavor. Of course, I don’t boil any veg (rebel), I slice the cabbage thin and sauté it in some oil, butter or bacon fat. You could use kale or swiss chard, which would be delicious too, play around, make it as healthy or decadent as you like.
My recipe is certainly not traditional. But it’s easy and comforting, and actually quite nutritious. Here are some other ideas.
- Add an egg on top, boom, it’s a meal
- Make Colcannon pancakes (you will have a bit of leftover potato filling, so why not?)
- Freeze the twice-baked, for later, (when we can really celebrate Paddy’s Day 2020)
What type of potato* should I use?
As you would imagine, Ireland has so many potato varieties. I used a Rooster potato, which looks like our red potato, but oh so not a red potato. Geez, it’s a yummy one. Fluffy, with smooth skin (which is delicious) and yellowish flesh. They have a wonderful earthy flavor and are perfect for baking. A nice Idaho or Russet will work great for this dish.Print
Make these today (St. Patrick’s Day) or tomorrow, or any day you need a little Irish cheer. Easy and tasty, they freeze well too.
- 4 large potatoes* (about 8 oz each)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil if needed
- 4–6 oz. bacon or Canadian bacon (*see note), chopped into small pieces
- 1 small leek, well washed and sliced thin (you’ll want a generous cup)
- 1/2–1 cup buttermilk (or yogurt, half and half, whatever fresh dairy you have, heck use a combo, even better)
- 4 tablespoon butter (optional, but tasty)
- Kosher salt and pepper to taste
- Green onions (or chives, if that’s what you have on hand) sliced thin for garnish
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees, place the rack near the middle to top of the oven.
- Scrub and rinse the potatoes well, prick the potatoes with a fork and bake until completely tender inside about 45-55 minutes. You want a skewer or bread knife to easily reach the center of the potato.
- While the potatoes are baking, get the filling started. If using streaky bacon (our typical bacon), sauté in a pan over medium high heat, until crispy. Remove from pan, and place on some kitchen towels to absorb the fat, set aside.
- Remove all but 1 tablespoon fat** from the pan. Return pan to the heat and when the pan is quite hot, all the leeks. Sauté until almost tender, then add the cabbage (or kale or chard) to the pan and sauté until tender and tasty. Taste for seasoning, but you may not need much since the bacon has plenty of flavor.
- When potatoes are ready, remove from the oven, and cool until you can handle. Slice in half (the long way), and scoop the fluffy potato (leaving about a quarter-inch around the edge to make a sturdy shell) into a large bowl. Salt and pepper the shell well, and set aside. Mash to potatoes with a fork or potato masher (it’s a-okay for these to be chunky), add as much of the buttermilk or dairy of choice to moisten the fluffy potato, without making it soupy. Salt and pepper the mixture, and taste it, is it delish? Is the flavor nice? Add a little more if necessary.
- Mix the cabbage mixture in with the potatoes. Add more dairy if needed. Taste and be sure to season if needed.
- Scoop the mixture back into the shells, and pop back into a hot oven for about 15 minutes to reheat.
- Top with sliced green onions and serve.
*In Ireland, I used Irish bacon, which is much leaner than our ‘streaky’ bacon. If I were making this at home, I’d use good Canadian bacon with a little olive oil, saute until crispy, set aside.
**Save the bacon fat, it’s good stuff! A tiny bit goes a long way.
Just look at some of these potato names:
- Kerr’s Pink
- Queens (oh my!)
- Maris Piper
- Home Gard
- Golden Wonder
For more Paddy’s Day recipes, why not give some of these a whirl.
You can be flexible with many of the ingredients for these recipes. This, if anything, so you don’t have to run out to the store. If you need help or suggestions, just give me a holler. There are plenty of other ‘Irish’ recipes on my website, just search ‘Irish’ and they’ll pop up.
Thanks for reading and cooking. And as always, if you are stumped in the kitchen, let me know, I’m here to help.