Colcannon Recipe (AKA Caulcannon)

I had forgotten that today was the official start to fall, when I rolled out of bed. Something about today’s crisp, chilly air awoke something in me, though.

Massive. Colcannon. Craving.

At first, I thought it was a bout of ADD. I had resolved to work on my tornado book today, and had to go through emails, blog posts, and tweets to compile a comprehensive timeline of everything that’s happened since May 22. Yup – about as much fun as it sounds.

I sat down to my computer, and I thought… “Man, you know what would be awesome now? Colcannon. Just a massive bowl of piping hot colcannon. Mmmmm…”

I tried to turn my attention to what I was doing, but even a few hours later, the craving roared for attention. I decided to cave in and make some. I messaged my husband to let him know, and ask for an opinion on how much to make. That convo:

Me: I have decided that I need to make colcannon. How much?
Me: A little or a ton?
Husband: Ton!!!!!!!!!!!
Husband: !!!!!!!!!!!

Yep. We kind of adore colcannon here… as you may have guessed from his copious use of exclamation points! 🙂

Colcannon is a very traditional Irish dish – and if you search for it online, the recipes you’ll find are pretty much all in the Irish style. Traditional Irish colcannon is essentially mashed potatoes with kale or cabbage mixed in… sometimes with leeks. You add butter and cream, season it a bit… and it’s generally a pretty good thing. It’s very much an autumn thing, and is particularly associated with Halloween.

On Halloween, various small objects are hidden within a batch of caulcannon, intended to discern the future of those who find them. A ring means that the person will marry soon. A button or a thimble means a lifetime of bachelorhood/spinsterism. (I don’t think that’s a word. Oh well, my blog, my rules!). A coin means that the person who finds it will come into wealth soon. A cute tradition – I’ve only ever seen it done with coins, personally!

This recipe is not Irish style. This is one of the many ways that they make caulcannon on the east coast of Canada. I learned it from a friend from Newfoundland, and it’s how I’ve made it since learning of colcannon’s existence, probably a decade ago.

Where the Irish style is fairly simple, with only a couple of ingredients… Newfoundland (and, from what I hear, Nova Scotia!) style incorporates many more kinds of vegetables, sometimes some meat, etc. The friend I learned this from used heavy cream in hers, I prefer to use sour cream.

For me, colcannon is one of those non-recipe recipes, when I make it. I cut up veggies, eyeballing it as I go. When I mash them and add stuff, everything is instinctual. Because “add a glob of sour cream” isn’t very technical, I made a point to measure everything, so I could share the recipe with all of you!

If you don’t like rutabagas, leave them out. Big fan of parsnips? Add more. Feel free to tinker with amounts or proportions of the ingredients, as you see fit. It’s a very free form recipe!

When all is said and done, this recipe is essentially a very rich, very flavorful version of mashed potatoes. I may or may not add photos at some point – as ridiculously tasty as it is, this is NOT a recipe that photographs well.

East-Coast Canadian / Newfoundland Style Colcannon
Makes a LARGE pot worth!

1 green cabbage
1 large rutabaga
1-2 lbs parsnips
2 lbs carrots
5 lbs potatoes (Yukon gold or red)
1 cup butter
1 ½ cups sour cream
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Remove outer leaves from cabbage. Chop into small pieces, discarding center “core”. Peel rutabaga, parsnips, carrots, and potatoes, chop into smallish chunks.

Place all prepared vegetables into a large stock pot, cover with water, and boil on medium heat for about 2 hours, or until each type of vegetable will mash easily.

Working in batches, run vegetables through a food processor, beat in a stand mixer, or mash by hand until mixture is smooth.

Chop butter into smaller cubes, add to still-hot mash of vegetables along with the sour cream. Stir until butter is melted, and cream fully incorporated into the mash. Stir in salt and pepper, check taste. Add more salt and/or pepper if desired.

Serve as-is, or pour into baking pans, cover with foil, and bake for 30 minutes at 350. We usually don’t get this far – the aroma of the colcannon boiling for 2 hours usually has us pretty rabid (and low on patience!) by the time we get to the mashing step – Forget the additional wait of putting it in the oven!

This recipe freezes well. Just pack into containers, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and cover with TIGHT lid.

Edited to add: Ok fine, here’s a crappy cell phone picture. I MAY add a professional shot later 🙂

With 2017 being Canada’s 150th birthday, it’s about time I wrote the Canadian cookbook I’ve been planning for YEARS.

“More than Poutine” will be a Canadian cookbook like no other – written by a Canadian living away, it includes both traditional homecooking recipes, as well as homemade versions of many of the snacks, sauces, convenience foods, and other food items that are hard to come by outside of Canada!

High quality gluten-free versions of most recipes will be included.

The Kickstarter for “More Than Poutine is live, here. Please consider backing, and sharing the campaign with your friends!

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