Colcannon – Irish Yum Food



Colcannon is quick, cheap, and easy.  Not to mention delicious and comforting.  Good on its own as a simple supper with biscuits or as a  hearty side dish to baked chicken or pork chops.   A lot of recipes call for kale.  I was raised to use cabbage.  After all, the name colcannon or cál ceannann means:  white headed cabbage.  I use cabbage, not kale.  I will purchase a small cabbage, about a pound, to use for this.  I discard the tough outer green leaves (putting outside for roving bunnies), cut the cabbage into quarters, core, and shred.

Usually served in the fall or at Halloween, colcannon used to have charms put in it.  Dependent on the charm you spooned onto your plate, you’d end up being single or married.  Many young Irish lasses would fill a sock with colcannon and hang on the door handle.  The first man to enter would supposedly end up being your husband.  I’m sure there were some kind of rules in place to exclude the village priest or a brother or other male family member.  Personally, putting a bunch of mashed potatoes with cabbage in a sock doesn’t sound all that great to me, but the colcannon on the plate, without the charms or the sock is a grand dish!   All you need is some Guiness stout or Harp to wash it down.

1lb 6oz potatoes – (do not use waxy type)  peeled and quartered
8oz spring cabbage, chopped ****
1/2 cup scallions/spring onions, roughly chopped
1/4 cup scallions/spring onions, finely chopped
4 oz butter + 3 tbs
salt and pepper

Simmer the potatoes in lightly salted water until cooked – when pierced with a sharp knife and the potato is soft in the middle.   Chop 3/4 of the spring onions roughly and the other 1/4 finely. Add the roughly chopped scallions/spring onions to the cabbage. Saute  lightly until tender in the 2 tbs. butter. Drain the potatoes and add the rest of the butter. When the butter has melted, mash the potatoes until smooth and creamy. Add the cabbage mixture and mix. Stir in some salt and pepper to taste for seasoning and garnish with the finely chopped scallion.

Thank you Wiki for the photo!

23 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap
    Mar 15, 2014 @ 15:18:46

    That looks so yummy!


    • kanzensakura
      Mar 15, 2014 @ 16:50:32

      It is Paulette. and it is easy. I love steamed cabbage – how I do it. Which is basically shredding and sauteeing it. some people cook it too much and it is mushy. I use very little water, just maybe a little bit more than what sticks to it when I wash it after shredding. I only cover it for the last 10 minutes. My mother-in-law says I make the best cabbage and banana pudding. My mother taught me about how to cook cabbage. Please try it and let me know.


  2. SirenaTales
    Mar 15, 2014 @ 16:02:31

    Agree with POMD above-YUM! And thank you for all of the cool lore. Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Xo


    • kanzensakura
      Mar 15, 2014 @ 16:51:59

      thank you. Give it a try. if you aren’t vegetarian, some left over bacon fat is wonderful to cook the cabbage in. Please read my reply to Paulette about cabbage. And you have a wonderful dancing St. Patrick’s day!


  3. huntmode
    Mar 17, 2014 @ 22:22:35

    Kanzen, it won’t happen today, but I’m thinking before the week is out, I’ll give this a try. I’m late to cabbage – really late – only in the last 7 years or so. Somehow in my Irish genes, the smell of cooked cabbage, especially on St. Pat’s in restaurants, sends a deep in the bone message of poverty and tenements. Must be in the DNA. Later, I found out the purple stuff I enjoyed so much raw was in fact cabbage. Grin. Biases be damned. Just about anything with potatoes makes me a happy person. Happy St. Pat’s to you, lass.


    • kanzensakura
      Mar 18, 2014 @ 11:49:02

      Because we always had a garden (big enough to feed us, freeze and can stuff, we had nice tender spring cabbages and then later, a different type to harvest in the fall and keep through the winter – the white headed type. My Papa and Ninny always, when fixing cabbage – whether steamed, fried, creole, colcannon or bubble ‘n squeak, always would put on a small pot of water with a bit of vinegar or slice of lemon added to boil while the cabbage cooked and there was none of that odor. I think too many people try to cook it too much. And we always had cole slaw and when I got into the Japanese mode, I always have “quickles” – pickled veggies to eat as a side dish. Shredded cabbage is part of that. We were dreadfully poor and so we ate what we had. The only things I refused to eat and still do are liver and baked fish. I’d eat the side dishes when we had that – and was perfectly happy with them. And taters – lord love you. Taters freshly dug, boiled, and buttered with fresh parsley or chives along with a sliced summer tomato is one of my favorite meals. No one in the family ate rice except for Ninny and me. With Irish/Viking on side and Irish/German on the other, we were doomed – taters it was.


  4. kanzensakura
    Mar 18, 2014 @ 19:32:45

    Rice AND taters sounds like a new dish….hmmmmmmm


  5. huntmode
    Mar 28, 2014 @ 20:51:09

    Kanzen, I’m looking at that recipe for colcannon – sounds like you don’t boil or cook the cabbage? I’m sure I’m wrong here – going back to look

    Hmm, maybe not – just sauteed with the scallions and then added to the potatoes?

    how long do you cook cabbage anyway?


    • kanzensakura
      Mar 28, 2014 @ 21:01:56

      You do cook the cabbage. Shred it and with what water clings to it, carefully put into a pan with dome oil, butter, bacon fat, add a tab bit more water, sat and pepper. Let it sizzle a couple of minutes on mefuim heat, turn it several time to ensure thoroughly coated with oil, put lid on pan for a few minutes to build up steam and wilt the cabbage. Take lid off, jumble up the cabbage some more and put on low heat with lid off. Add a little bit more water if needed. Let it cook until tender but not mushy, jumbling it a couple of times. Some folk cook it waaay too much. You want it to stand on its own in the mashed taters and still have flavor. My mother in law thinks I make the best cabbage but she is used to people who cook it to mush in way too much water. In the south, this preparation of cabbage is often called fried cabbage as opposed to mushed cabbage. For a healthier spin, you can shred and put in a steamer until tender. The cabbage ends up, either way, sweet and tender, not mushy and flavorless or sometimes, bitter. Hope this helps! 🙂


  6. huntmode
    Mar 31, 2014 @ 00:56:18

    You are so grand, Kanzen! So… ignorant northerner that I am…. “put into a pan with dome oil, butter, bacon fat, add a tab bit more water, sat and pepper.” – all of them or your choice? “dome oil?” (and didn’t you say – perhaps another recipe of cabbage, that you put vinegar in, too? Pretty soon, you’ll be muttering “bless your heart, HuntMode….” 🙂


    • kanzensakura
      Mar 31, 2014 @ 01:42:41

      Bless your heart Huntie. And if you heard it, you’d know it wasn’t being said with an eye roll. Dome oil is some oil. These wretched keys on my tablet are so danged bitty. Use whatever fat you wish. Bacon fat/grease is my choice, but some folk don’t use it. Giving a list like that is to say to use what you have/prefer. Hit don’t never mind, as they say in parts of Appalachia or deep south. Unless you use garlic infused oil, i’d have to say no to that or olive oil. 🙂


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