When you think of Irish cuisine, probably the first food that comes to mind is the humble potato. Although potatoes originally came from South America, Spanish conquistadors brought them to Europe about 500 years ago and their love for the lumpy little tubers was instant. The conditions were perfect for growing potatoes and the bountiful harvests provided a food source throughout the winter. Potatoes quickly became a food staple and were eaten as much as 3 times a day. By the late 1700’s an average family of 6 planted enough potatoes to produce a crop of 5 tons per year.
Traditionally the Irish plant their potato crop on or around St. Patrick’s Day. The legend is that the patron saint of Ireland makes planting conditions ideal on his special holiday.
Colcannon is a traditional Irish dish from the Gaelic “cal ceannann” which means “white headed cabbage”. Potatoes are boiled and mashed with cooked cabbage, leeks, cream and butter. Serve with lamb, pork or corned beef for an authentic Irish St. Patrick’s Day meal.
Colcannon Irish Potatoes
3 lbs red potatoes, unpeeled and quartered
3-4 whole garlic cloves
1 Tbsp salt
6 slices of bacon
5 Tbsp butter
3 green onions, chopped
1 large leek, sliced thinly
½ head of cabbage, sliced thinly
Salt & pepper to taste
Place the potatoes and whole garlic cloves in a pot and cover with cold water. Add salt and bring to a boil. Cook potatoes and garlic for about 15-20 minutes or until tender. Drain.
While the potatoes are boiling, cook bacon in a large pan until crisp. Reserve drippings. Crumble bacon and set aside.
Add 1 tablespoon of the butter to the bacon drippings and saute the green onions, leeks and cabbage over medium heat until onions are translucent and cabbage is wilted, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat.