Around the Davison house, not liking the humble potato was considered anathema! Rarely, did a day go by where my mother (or even my father) was not peeling spuds. We had a family of 4 so that meant at least 6 big spuds in the pot. We had them so many different ways: boiled (skins off and on), tossed in a stew, sliced up and fried, baked in aluminum foil in the oven, or my favourite way: mashed.
In our extended family, my uncle Jimmy (on my mom’s side) was known as “The Masher”. This was not due to his inappropriate advances on ladies; it was because he was the expert on mashing potatoes for supper. When he was in the house, my dad stepped aside to let “ The Masher” take over.
I used to love if my mother would add carrots and mash them in with the potatoes, but mashed turnips were great as well. My father’s favourite however, was the traditional dish of “Colcannon” which combined cooked cabbage, and sliced green onions (or as he called them, scallions) with mashed potatoes and loads of butter. I’m not one for the green onions, unless they are sauteed in butter or stir-fried in an Asian dish, but HE loved them!
These days, when I make Colcannon, I like to add a bit of a Scandinavian flavour using carraway seeds to give it pungency. This is not as untraditional as you might expect, since if you know your history, The Vikings actually founded the city of Dublin, Ireland (Dubh Lin, meaning “dark pool”). So, in fact, I’m bringing the two historic cultures together in my own mash. Enjoy!
6 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 cups of chopped cabbage, cooked
3 green onions (tops removed) – washed and sliced
2 Tbsp. organic butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp. carraway seeds
1/4 cup milk
Freshly ground pepper
Put potato chunks in large pot and cover with cold water. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to medium (keeping lid on at a tilt). Cook until fork-tender. In a separate pot, cook cabbage until soft. Melt 1 Tbsp. butter in a large frying pan. Add carraway seeds and stir for a bit. Add cooked cabbage and sliced green onions and saute for a minute to blend flavours.
Meanwhile, mash potatoes with milk and the other Tbsp. of butter. Fold in the cabbage/onion mixture with a wooden spoon or large spatula. Add salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.
At this point, you can either serve the colcannon, or put in a large casserole and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. You can also use a beaten egg-yolk painted on with a pastry-brush to glaze the top for a nice crust.
(Day-old Colcannon is great stir-fried in the pan with butter and served with your favourite fish or meat.)
This recipe serves 6-7, but feel free to double it for a bigger crowd!
*Keep an eye on your dashboard for my famous Irish Whiskey Cake!