Colcannon – A traditional Irish dish

Mar 15, 2017

“Did you ever eat Colcannon, made from lovely pickled cream? With the greens and scallions mingled like a picture in a dream. Oh, wasn’t it the happy days when troubles we had not, and our mothers made Colcannon in the little skillet pot.” Traditional Irish song

Have you ever tried colcannon? A delectable Irish peasant dish, colcannon, literally translated as “white-headed cabbage”, is prepared with mashed potatoes, kale or cabbage, butter and cream. For us Mainers who love our potatoes, colcannon is Rolls Royce of mashed potatoes.

I once had the opportunity to visit Ireland, with its quiet villages of thatched cottages, cobbled stoned streets, and rolling pastures dotted with sheep and cattle. The cuisine was fresh and delicious, very similar to ours here in Maine. Traditional, local seasonal foods were prepared without complicated cooking methods or exotic ingredients. It was pure comfort food.

This recipe for Colcannon is merely a guide. It seems that every Irish family has their favorite rendition. Around Halloween, colcannon is often made with kale, perhaps the only vegetable left producing in the garden. How that must be a pretty shade of green!

In this preparation, I made good use of the cabbage stored in my root cellar since fall. After peeling away a few layers of soft leaves, my pale, green orb was firm, sweet, and “white-headed.” The mild and subtle flavor of leeks adds a depth of flavor; chopped onions would also be good instead.

Using a skillet to simmer the alliums and cabbage in milk and cream softens the flavor and texture gently. When you add the cooked potato (or even better, your leftover mashed potato), be sure to taste and season generously with sea salt and fresh pepper.

Top the mixture with more melted butter and slivered scallions and enjoy the happy days.


Cheryl Wixson
A traditional Irish dish, Colcannon recipes vary from family to family. This preparation makes great potluck party fare.


  • 3 cups peeled & cubed potato about 2 pounds
  • 1 in leek slicedhalf and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves chopped
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 4 tablespoons butter divided
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • Sea salt and fresh pepper
  • 1 scallion or green onion thinly sliced


  • Cover the potatoes with water, bring to a boil, and cook until they are soft. Drain the water and set aside.
  • In a large sauté pan, or skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the leeks, and cook, stirring frequently, until they are soft.
  • Add the garlic, and cook until fragrant. Stir in the cabbage, and cook, stirring, until soft. Add the milk and cream and bring to a simmer. Add the potatoes and coarsely mash the mixture. Season to taste with sea salt and fresh pepper.
  • To serve, transfer the colcannon to a large bowl, top with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and sprinkle with the scallions.

Cheryl's Notes

Makes six servings.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 227 calories, 4 grams protein, 22 grams carbohydrates, 14 grams fat, 100 mg. sodium, 2.4 grams fiber.

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