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Colcannon with a Twist

March 4, 2011

St. Patrick’s Day is coming, so time to make a few dishes in honor of my Nana. Originally from an extremely rural town in Western Ireland, she did not really know about St. Patrick’s day until she came to the US. She considered it an American holiday. Me? I avoid the bars vomiting with green tackiness. Instead, I try and have a nice meal, a stout, and muster up memories about Nana.

A perfect dish for St. Patrick’s Day, but actually meant for Halloween, Colcannon is traditionally potatoes mixed with kale or cabbage. In fact, the Irish in the West tend to be opinionated, well really about many things, but definitely about kale or cabbage. I highly recommend trying both versions, however for today, I chose to offer a new ingredient to the mix: swiss chard. I know, this is very unorthodox indeed, however Irish cuisine is changing and improving with every year, witnessed on our last trip where we had some of the best meals of our lives. So, I am practicing innovation with this dish. Well, and I would have to bust my weekly grocery budget if I went to the store just to buy kale, so I grabbed the swiss chard from my green grocery box. We had the world’s largest swiss chard bunch, I mean look at it.

That is a buther’s knife in that picture! That’s ok because it was the perfect substitute. In fact, saving grocery money happens from modifying your recipes to fit what you have, not what you want. I am pretty sure my Nana would approve of that. Maybe in the next two weeks we can have the more authentic version if cabbage or kale come in the Washington Green Grocer box. I served these with spicy garlic green beans, and if you have some leftover you can make potato cakes the next day.


  • 6 potatoes
  • 3 cups of chopped swiss chard, kale or cabbage
  • 1 leek, sliced and soaked
  • 4 tb butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1/2 cup of cream
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Irish cheddar (optional)

1. Boil your peeled potatoes for 20-30 minutes or until soft. Drain the potatoes when they are soft, then return them to your pan.

2. While the potatoes cook, saute your chard, cabbage, or kale with the leeks in olive oil.

3. In the pot, mash your potatoes together with the milk, cream, 2 tb butter. Stir in the swiss chard and leeks.If your potatoes appear to be too soggy (probably from wet ruffage), just turn the heat on low, and let the liquid cook out a bit.

4. Season with salt and pepper. Top with a tab of butter or perhaps some Irish cheese.

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