Friday, October 22, 2010

Colcannon, or Irish Mashed Potatoes (or I hope my doctor isn't reading this blog!)

I really like mashed potatoes. Actually, I LOVE mashed potatoes. And a few nights ago my husband was watching a travel show on Ireland; they featured a local cook preparing Colcannon and it looked.....amazingl! (I'll explain in a minute what colcannon is). Anyhow, husband turned to me and said "That looks really good. Could you make that for us?"

How could I possibly say "no"? Thanks to paternal grandma I'm one-quarter Irish. And potatoes are a daily dietary requirement, aren't they?

Now, for an explanation of Colcannon--simply put, it's buttery mashed potatoes swirled with green cooked cabbage and (occasionally) bits of pork in the form of Canadian bacon or ham.

Now, colcannon isn't exactly "health food". Potatoes and cabbage, on their own or together are certainly health-conscious additions to ones diet. But the smoked pork and AMPLE nobs of butter applied to the final product quickly reduce this recipe from a thoughtful dietary choice to a planned act of temporary insanity.

Call me crazy--I love Colcannon:

Irish Colcannon (4 servings)
2 pounds smoked pork neck bones
1 quart water
1/2 head cabbage
4 or 5 (depending on size) white new potatoes
1/2 milk
1/2 cup butter, divided

Place pork neck bones in crock pot (slow cooker). Cover with water and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until meat is tender (3-4 hours on high). Remove meat from cooker and set aside to cool. Reserve water in crock pot.

Chop cabbage into small (1 inch) dice and add to water in crock pot. Cover and cook on low one hour. Drain cabbage and set aside.

When cool enough to handle, remove all bones and fat from cooked pork. Set aside.

Place potatoes in steamer basket in large saucepan with lid. Cover and steam over low heat until potatoes are done--a sharp knife should easily slide into the potato. When potatoes are cool enough to handle remove skins; place peeled potatoes in large bowl. Mash until no lumps remain; add 1/4 cup butter, 1 tablespoon at a time until all butter is incorporated. Heat milk in microwave; add to potatoes and continue to whip until potatoes are creamy.

Using a large spoon stir cooked cabbage and cooked pork into mashed potatoes. Divide mixture among 4 serving bowls. Using a wooden spoon, make a well in the middle of each serving. Place 1 tablespoon of butter in each well.


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