I'm not sure if I mentioned it before, but I love the Irish. When I was living out the most bitter winter of my life in France, and all the French people were so reserved it made me feel awkward and lonely, it was the Irish who got me back on my feet. One night I had stumbled into one of the Irish expat pubs in La Rochelle, drawn in by the sound of a fiddle.
They were dancing! and laughing! and being drunk! As a Texan, a little part of me felt right at home. There were few other pubs I would even bother with after I found this one.
Even now, two years later and 5,000 miles away, the Irish are helping me deal with a trial far more brutal and unforgiving than surviving that French winter: eating all this damn kale my parents gave me from their garden.
I hate the stuff. Kale chips aren't even that appealing to me. You want to know why southerns hate kale? Here the science: kale's flavor dramatically changes (and becomes far less bitter) after the first freeze! But I'm in Texas. By the time it freezes here, kale season is already done. So we only have bitter kale. Gross.
Colcannon however combines the things I love (mash potatoes, ham, scallions) in a rather successful attempt to hide the thing I hate. It's such an awesome dish that they made a song about it.
... like I said: love the Irish.
3 pounds potatoes, scrubbed
2 sticks butter
1 1/4 cups hot milk
Freshly ground black pepper
1 head cabbage, cored and finely shredded
1 (1-pound) piece ham or bacon, cooked the day before
4 scallions, finely chopped
Chopped parsley leaves, for garnish
Steam the potatoes in their skins for 30 minutes. Peel them using a knife and fork. Chop with a knife before mashing. Mash thoroughly to remove all the lumps. Add 1 stick of butter in pieces. Gradually add hot milk, stirring all the time. Season with a few grinds of black pepper.
Boil the cabbage in unsalted water until it turns a darker color. Add 2 tablespoons butter to tenderize it. Cover with lid for 2 minutes. Drain thoroughly before returning it to the pan. Chop into small pieces.
Put the ham in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 45 minutes until tender. Drain. Remove any fat and chop into small pieces.
Add cabbage, scallions, and ham to mashed potatoes, stirring them in gently.
Serve in individual soup plates. Make an indentation on the top by swirling a wooden spoon. Put 1 tablespoon of butter into each indentation. Sprinkle with parsley and you're good to go!