A Nod to the Irish Side of the Family

Dad remembers Stede making Irish Stew, but it was never one of his favourites, and she used to make soda bread occasionally which he does like.  Ironic really that she made fantastic taramasalata from scratch but Irish food didn’t feature highly in her repertoire.  I spent the summer of 1991 in the UK whilst Andrew was in Germany on a language course.  It was the first time I spent on my own with Bapu and Stede, and whilst Nico bonded with Bapu over slippers, I bonded with Stede in the kitchen.

Stede and I discovered a mutual love of cabbage and she taught me to make today’s recipe, which follows on from yesterday’s Nice Cabbage.  Stede told me that she remembered helping her grandmother to make this and that she preferred it with spring greens (so do I, but I tended to make it for you boys with cabbage because the flavour is milder).  Today’s recipe is of course Colcannon, but I don’t make it exactly like your Stede – 1/2 lb of butter always seemed a bit too much for me!  You could take the girl out of Ireland, but …..

When we returned to London from Hong Kong, Colcannon appeared on many restaurant menus in many various guises.  Whilst some form of green and potatoes are a constant, I suspect that there are as many variations for this as there are Irish.  After Stede’s strokes it became something of a tradition that I would make this for her when they came to eat with us (she loved it with roast pork).   She knew that I had never heard of it until she showed me, and it was ‘our thing’.  I’m glad that I can say that I was shown how to make it by an Irishwoman, and in passing on the recipe to you, I feel a wee bit of your Irish side lives on too.

Colcannon – Ingredients

  • 1 kg / 2 lbs 4 oz floury potatoes, cut into pieces
  • 500 g / 1 lb spring greens / kale / cabbage, shredded finely
  • Single Cream
  • Butter
  • 8 spring onions, finely chopped
  • Salt and black pepper


Put the potatoes into a pan and cover with water.  Place a steamer over this pan and put the cabbage into it.  Cook the potatoes until soft.  Stede liked her cabbage well cooked, but you may like to check that it doesn’t get too mushy.

Melt a tablespoon of butter in a large pan, and over a very low heat soften the spring onions. Add the cabbage and stir.  Remove from heat.

Mash the potatoes with about 8 tablespoons of cream and 2 ounces of butter.  This is totally up to you – make these potatoes the way you want to eat them.

Combine the cabbage mixture and the potatoes together and season.  I tend not to add salt – Stede did.  I do add lots of black pepper.  Serve immediately.

Serve (preferably with roast pork, crackling and lots of gravy).

If you have leftovers, Stede told me to this is great the next day shaped into patties and fried.  She told me to use lard if I did this, but we never had any leftovers.


One thought on “A Nod to the Irish Side of the Family

  1. Pingback: Classy Colcannon | What's On the Stove?

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