Sometimes the simplest, most economical dishes are the most satisfying. Colcannon is one from Ireland, for which all you need is cabbage or kale, some potatoes, and the dairy element that gives it richness and makes meat unnecessary. You can substitute milk for the cream in this recipe, but don’t leave out the butter — even if you pass the butter at the table so diners can choose the quantity, melting it into their portion while the colcannon is steaming hot. I leave potatoes unpeeled, both for the skins’ nutrients and for the texture they give to the dish. Many variations of colcannon exist — in parts of Scotland, it’s called “Rumpledethumps” and made with cabbage. Popular additions to colcannon include sautéed leeks and bacon.
• 2 pounds unpeeled potatoes, cut into chunks
• 6 small to medium kale leaves
• 1/2 cup whipping cream
• Coarse sea salt, to taste
• Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
• 1/4 cup butter (half a stick)
1. Drop the potatoes into a medium saucepan of boiling water. Lower the heat and simmer them until tender, 15 to 20 minutes, then drain. While the potatoes are cooking, cut or tear the ribs off the kale and discard them. Chop the leaves coarsely. You should have about 2 cups, tightly packed. Steam the kale until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. A firm, curly kale will take a bit longer than a thin-leaved type.
2. Return the potatoes to the saucepan along with the cream. Mash over low heat with a potato masher until smooth and heated through. Stir in the kale, salt and pepper, and then transfer to a serving bowl. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and pour it over the colcannon. Add an extra grinding of pepper and serve immediately, while still piping hot.
More about cooking with spinach and kale: Read Fall Finery: Grow and Cook Kale and Spinach for additional cooking tips and recipes featuring these cool-weather favorites.
Barbara Damrosch creates fresh recipes using the bounty of her garden with her husband, Eliot Coleman, at Four Season Farm in Harborside, Maine. She is the author of The Garden Primer and, with Coleman, of The Four Season Farm Gardener’s Cookbook.