march 8, 2022
Unfortunately, the “wearing of the green” for St. Patrick’s Day means that salad has fallen onto my shirt. I am a mutt, like most Americans, meaning there is Irish heritage muddled with the others. Alas, I’m not much for celebrating minor holidays like March 17 and donning apparel matching those holidays. But the food, I am all about the food. By food I mean potatoes and lots of them. A days without potatoes is a day without sunshine. A meal without potatoes is somehow less. Duck Fat Fries? Yeah. Cheddar Parmesan Potato Gratin? Of course. Potatoes for dessert? Someday I will make a recipe worthy of that last and most important course.
Colcannon is one of those recipes like lasagna where hundreds of versions battle for top attention and all are equally good. At its basic, potatoes plus greens like kale or cabbage means colcannon. Add leek and creamy dairy and colcannon is elevated in stature to king of the table.
I like skin-on red potatoes for flavor, fiber and color. Leeks instead of green onion add depth of flavor and a little chew. Cabbage, when melted with leeks and butter, is tender and sweet. Half a brick of neufchâtel cheese adds creaminess that stands up to freezing for later.
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day eating.
recipe by Michele Humlan, The Good Eats Company
makes about 8-10 servings
two pounds red potatoes, cleaned and unpeeled, cut halves, about 6-7 medium
finely ground white pepper
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
one large leek, cleaned and trimmed of tough stems, sliced
3 cups green cabbage in one inch pieces
4 ounces neufchâtel cheese (half a brick)
3 more tablespoons unsalted butter
fine sea salt
¼-⅓ cup milk
- Add potatoes to large stockpot with generous pinch of kosher salt, add water just to cover and bring to boil over high heat.
- Simmer over low heat, partially covered, until tender and easily pierced with knife.
- While potatoes cook, melt 3 tablespoons butter in heavy saute pan over medium high heat, add leek and cabbage and decrease heat to medium low when mixture sizzles, cover and stir occasionally until tender, about 8-10 minutes; avoid browning and adjust heat accordingly.
- Set aside vegetables when done, drain potatoes in colander when done; dry interior of stockpot, add neufchâtel and the other 3 tablespoons of butter, then add back potatoes.
- Add pinches of fine salt and white pepper and use potato masher to make smooth but still a little chunky.
- Stir in leek and cabbage mixture plus ¼ cup milk (warmed if dish will be served right away), then mix well, adjusting salt and pepper to taste and adding a little more milk if you like this creamier.
- Serve immediately or, for later, cool to temperature and freeze tightly covered; after fully defrosting in fridge, remove cover and bake at 350-400 until heated throughout.
- As with all potatoes dishes, oven heat is needed to dry and set after freezer storage; microwave will lead to watery mix.