Should you find yourself entertaining a hungry crowd at your home this St. Patrick’s Day (Thursday, March 17), corned beef and cabbage with boiled potatoes certainly comes to mind as a go-to dish. But at our house, a vegetarian also has a say, so corned beef isn’t really an option.
Instead, we prepare baked colcannon (from the Irish cál ceannann, meaning white-headed cabbage), a simple, rustic dish of chunky mashed potatoes, hardy greens and butter. Luckily, the winter garden has been good to us this season, so the following recipe uses baby kale and arugula plucked straight from the ground, plus store-bought green cabbage. You could substitute more mature kale, as long as it's de-stemmed, rinsed well and chopped. The Irish oatmeal biscuits are more of a cookie—not too sweet, but the perfect accompaniment for a shot of housemade Irish cream liqueur, a year-round staple in our home refrigerator.
- 5 large russet potatoes, peeled, rinsed and quartered
- 2 cups green cabbage, sliced thin
- 2 cups rinsed and roughly chopped fresh arugula
- 1 cup rinsed and roughly chopped fresh kale
- 1 cup low-fat milk
- ½ cup butter plus 1 tablespoon for greasing pan
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 beaten egg, for brushing colcannon before baking
Place the potatoes in a pot of cold water and bring to a boil. Salt potatoes liberally once the boil has been achieved. Cook until soft, drain off excess water, and mash in the milk and ½ cup butter over low heat to desired consistency (we like it chunky). Season again with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat. In a separate covered pot, steam cabbage, arugula and kale until wilted but not overdone, about five minutes. Remove the greens and cabbage from the pot, cool slightly and squeeze out any extra moisture from them over the sink, using a clean kitchen towel. Fold the cabbage-greens mixture into the mashed potatoes until well incorporated. Mound the entire mixture into a buttered baking dish, brush with beaten egg and bake at 400 degrees until the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Serve hot with Irish soda bread.
Semisweet Irish Oatmeal Biscuits
- 1 cup Irish oatmeal (not instant or quick-cooking), such as McCann’s brand
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out dough
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons salted butter, cut into small pieces, room temperature
- 3 tablespoons milk, plus a little more, if needed
In a blender or food processor, grind the oatmeal until it resembles coarse cornmeal. Add the ground oats and flour to a large mixing bowl. Add sugar, butter and milk and knead mixture with hands until a sticky dough forms. (This may take a while. Just consider it exercise. If it's too crumbly, add more milk by the teaspoonful.) Form dough into a flat disc and refrigerate for 45 minutes. Roll out chilled dough on lightly floured surface to ¼-inch thick. Cut out 3-inch-diameter discs and place them on parchment-lined cookie sheets, about 1 inch apart. Place sheets with dough discs back in the refrigerator for 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place cookie sheets in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until the biscuits are golden brown. Transfer cookie sheets to wire racks and cool completely.
Homemade Irish Cream Liqueur
- 1 cup half-and-half
- 14-ounce can sweetened, condensed milk
- 1½ cups Irish whiskey
- 1 teaspoon instant coffee or espresso powder
- 2 tablespoons flavored chocolate syrup, such as Torani brand, for coffee drinks
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Blend all ingredients on high in a blender for 30 seconds, or until well combined. Pour Irish cream liqueur into sealable jars and refrigerate for up to three weeks.