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Spice of Life: Colcannon good enough to eat and sing about

Last Modified: Tuesday, March 05, 2013 5:21 PM

By Eric Cormier / American Press

There is an Irish dish that may be one of the best examples of a satisfying and filling comfort food.

Colcannon — a mashed potatoes and leafy vegetable concoction — is regarded as poor folks food on the Emarald Isle. Like many dishes from around the world — that fall under that meaningless and informal culinary category — it is absolutely delicious.

Over the years, I’ve seen the moist and flavorful dish served in restaurants and pubs in the northeastern states. I never seen it served in the south until MacFarlane’s Celtic Pub in Lake Charles made it a staple side item on the menu.

Traditionally, colcannon is served during Halloween in Ireland. But it gets some added mileage during St. Patrick’s Day celebrations since it is very easy to prepare.

As with most aspects of Irish life, there are stories, songs and poetry in which colcannon is either referenced or the main theme.

Mary Black, a Celtic and folk singer, wrote some lyrics that are appropriate:

“Well did you ever make colcannon

Made with lovely picked cream

With the greens and scallions mingled

Like a pitcher in a dream


Oh you did, so you did

So did he and so did I

And the more I think about it

Sure the nearer I’m to cry

Oh weren’t them the happy days

When troubles we knew not

And our mother made colcannon

In the little skillet pot”

What follows is a colcannon recipe. I hope you recall days that someone special made your favorite comfort food.


Colcannon (4-6 servings)


• 1 pound potatoes, peeled and quartered
• 4 ounces curly kale, chopped (or Spring cabbage if kale not available)
• 1/2 cup scallions, roughly chopped
• 1/4
cup scallions, finely chopped
• 1 stick butter
• Salt and pepper


Simmer the potatoes in lightly salted water until cooked — when pierced with a sharp knife the potato is soft in the middle.

• Blanch the curly kale in boiling water for one minute. Drain and reserve.

• Chop half of the scallions roughly and the other half finely. Add the roughly chopped scallions to the drained kale and pulse in blender for 10 seconds.

• Drain the potatoes and add the butter. When the butter has melted, mash the potatoes until smooth and creamy. Add the kale mixture and mix.

• Finally, add the finely chopped scallions and season to taste.

From “Celtic Cuisine” by Gilli Davies

• • •

Eric Cormier writes about food every Wednesday. Contact him at or 494-4090.

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