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colcannon: Irish potatoes

I have moved to the part of a diet where you begin fantasizing about certain kinds of food. For me, those foods are specifically anything white or sweet, since that’s what I’m avoiding. Last night we were skyping with friends, and one of them made a reference to “bread and butter” in a completely non-food related manner, and I flipped out at the thought of eating my mom’s fluffy bread and butter. A little self-control now will make the food taste better later, or so I keep telling myself.

When I do begin reincorporating more starch and refined carbs back into my diet, I know what I’m making first. Nate and I both have Irish heritage, so over the years I’ve been building a repertoire of Irish dishes. I picked up this recipe for colcannon from Tyler Florence years ago; it’s one of the only times I’ve watched his show because I can’t stand the number of times he says “alright.” Now I’ve ruined it for you. I’ve adapted the recipe over the years until it’s now something I can make without opening a book. It’s pleasantly simple and satisfyingly hearty; the smooth potatoes and slightly crunchy cabbage provide the perfect contrasting textures, and the salty butter and crispy bacon take it to a whole ‘nother level

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serves 2

4-8 red potatoes (depends on how big; enough to fill a large saucepan lined with a steamer)
1/2 small head of green cabbage, chopped into 1/2 inch strips
lots of butter
1/2 c. to 1 c. hot milk (the more fat, the better)
leftover bacon or ham, cooked and chopped
handful of chopped scallions
handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Steam potatoes with skins on for 30 minutes or until tender. This cooking process keeps the nutrients in the potatoes better than boiling. Be sure to watch the water level occasionally because you may run out of water and scorch your pan (I have “smoked” these potatoes a time or four).

In the meantime, bring a few inches of salted water in a pot to a boil, add cabbage and boil two minutes. Take the pot off the heat, add 2 Tbs. of butter, and let sit for five minutes or until cabbage is tender. Drain and set aside in the colander.

After potatoes have cooled some, you can peel them. We leave the skins on because we like the texture. Put meat (chopped pieces of ham or leftover cooked bacon) into the cabbage pot and add 2 Tbs. butter. Melt butter and heat meat through, then remove from heat and add potatoes. Smash potatoes with a hand masher; you want them to be lumpy. Add milk, salt and pepper, and more butter as you go, to your taste. After you reach your desired consistency, fold in cabbage, parsley, and scallions.

Dish it up and add another pat of butter to the top. Why the heck not?

Update (2/6/12): I made another batch with dill  (yum!) and took considerably better pictures than my first round. Behold the beauty of bacon:


Editor’s Note: This post is part of Fight Back Friday, Homemaker Monday, and the Homesteading Barn Hop