Colcannon is a traditional Irish recipe made with kale, spring greens or cabbage – depending on what you have available. (I generally have kale kicking about, for those controversial kale pestos and the occasional grimacing penitence of a green juice on ‘the mornings after the nights before…’) Colcannon was a staple of my childhood but my mother, born and raised in Belfast, simply called it ‘champ’ – readers have been in touch in droves to explain the differences between the two, and Mum’s seemed to be a hybrid depending on what we had in the veg drawer. We used to eat it with a pile of sausages and gravy, and fought over seconds. Serve with sausages, chicken or eat as it is straight from the pot. The quantities are easily doubled, for larger families or appetites.
Serves 2 as a side dish at 25p each
350g white potatoes (fresh or tinned – I use tinned as they’re FAR cheaper, AND already cooked), 20p
a handful of cabbage (30g), 15p
½ an onion (100g), 6p
a generous knob of butter (25g), or more to taste, 9p
If using fresh potatoes, wash and dice them. If using tinned potatoes, drain and leave them whole. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil, pop the potatoes in and simmer until super-tender – 20 minutes for fresh potatoes, 5 minutes for tinned ones.
Finely chop the cabbage, greens or kale and peel and finely chop the onion. When the potatoes are soft, toss the cabbage and onion into the saucepan to blanch for just a minute or two.
Drain the vegetables and tip back into the saucepan. Add the butter and mash until it has a rough texture – or continue to mash and add more butter until smoother. And that’s it!
Season to taste, and serve.
Leftovers can be made into colcannon gnocchi, simply chill it in the fridge to set a little, and add a little flour to stiffen and form dumplings – how much will depend on how much colcannon you have left, but it should be stiff enough to form into balls without collapsing when it hits the boiling water. If in doubt, err on the side of more flour, not less. Form into balls one rounded teaspoon at a time, and flatten gently with the prongs of a fork. Bring a pan of water to the boil, and pop the gnocchi in. Reduce to a simmer and cook until they float to the surface. Remove with a slotted spoon, or drain all together (but they run the risk of sticking into a homogenous mass if you don’t act quickly) and serve with a simple pasta sauce or a generous knob of butter and salt and pepper.
Recipe costs were based on my most recent shop at Sainsburys, correct at the time of blogging and subject to change. Basics tinned potatoes 20p/540g (345g drained weight). 200g kale, £1. Basics butter, 90p/250g. Basics onions, 90p/1.5kg.
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Photograph by Susan Bell for A Girl Called Jack.