Irish side dish recipes for St. Patrick's Day are blissfully simple. Basically, boil or mash vegetables, add a shamrock for stylish effect and you are good to go.
Irish Colcannon is creamy mashed potatoes made green with cabbage or kale and seasoned with salt and pepper. The thought of a plate heaped with Colcannon is enough to make people sing – literally. "The Skillet Pot" is a traditional Irish folk song which begins,
Did you ever eat Colcannon, made from lovely pickled cream? With the greens and scallions mingled like a picture in a dream.
I like to imagine that in some distant Irish kitchen a hungry family waiting for their supper burst into this song as the cook (aka Mum) was running behind on getting the vittles to the table. I have as much evidence to back that up as I do the leprechaun I once spotted when I was 7 years old. So take that tale for what it is worth. But I can promise you'll like kale or cabbage better in a sea of buttered mashed potatoes.
Augusta Scattergood wrote an essay about Irish Colcannon for the Monitor a few years ago. You can read her essay, "Green potatoes? It must be St. Patrick's Day" here. We are reprinting her recipe below.
Serves 8 to 10
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and quartered (Yukon Gold work well)
1 pound (about 4 cups) kale, washed, stemmed, and chopped
1 cup half-and-half or light cream
1 large bunch of green onions, chopped fine
5 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste
In a large pan, cook the potatoes in boiling water until tender. Drain thoroughly.
While the potatoes are cooking, cook the kale in a separate pan of boiling water until very tender. Drain thoroughly.
In a small saucepan, simmer the green onions in the cream just until tender.
Mash the potatoes well. Add cream and onions. Mix in kale, salt, and pepper.
Mound potatoes in a large bowl. Using a spoon, make a well in the top of the potatoes. Pour the melted butter into the well. Serve hot.
And if you want to learn the lyrics to "The Skillet Pot," listen to the Black family a few times and then sing for your Irish supper!