Irish

COLCANNON MY WAY

COLCANNON MY WAY

“If you're lucky enough to be Irish, then you're lucky enough.” Irish saying

Today is St Patrick’s Day so it is very fitting to celebrate the Irish. I have always had a soft spot for everything Irish, the superb literature, uplifting music, the dark rich beer or the sexy accent (I still remember hearing Liam Neeson in Woody Allen’s Husbands and Wives for the first time). My apologies to Scotland but I also believe that Irish Whiskey is the best in the world. The Czech in me also identifies with the Irish through our common love of the humble potato.

Potatoes have always been closely associated with the Irish diet. Not native to Ireland they became incredibly popular after their introduction in the late 16th century. As a crop they were incredibly successful, not only because they thrived in the Irish soil but were also highly nutritious. The poor Irish labourers especially became dependent on the potato. It is interesting that due to diet high in potatoes the Irish peasants were more healthy than those in England (and Europe) whose staple food was the less nutritious bread.

Unfortunately the Irish were so dependent on potato that the 6 year long potato famine (which started in 1845) caused the deaths of 1 million people, and 20-25% of Irish populations to emigrate.

Today potatoes are vilified, the crazy low carb diets tend to compare potatoes to sugar. In my book sugar has no nutritional value whatsoever, however potato is rich in whole host of vitamins and minerals. Potatoes contain significant amount of vitamins B6, B1, C, Potassium, folate, magnesium and even iron. They are rich in fibre (especially if eaten with the skin), low in fat and calories. It is possible to stay healthy on a diet of potatoes only, but diet of sugar only would surely lead to one’s demise.

Here is my take on Colcannon, the traditional Irish dish. The original is made with spring onions (scallions) and heaps of butter and sometimes milk. I have replaced the spring onions with slowly caramelized regular onion and there is not a smidgen of milk or butter. I admit to loving this dish so much that I often make a whole plate for my lunch and savour every last forkful.


Irishmash

COLCANNON MY WAY
I have added some caraway seeds to this dish, that is the Czech in me you can omit it from the recipe. I just can’t imagine cooking potatoes without it!

Serves 4 as a side dish

ingredients
5 medium potatoes, unpeeled
150-200g (about half pound) kale, stalks removed, roughly torn
1/2tsp caraway seed (optional)
1 Tbs rapeseed or olive oil
1 very large onion
salt and pepper

method
  1. First slice the onion as thinly as you can. In a medium frying pan heat the oil and cook the onion till soft and golden brown. This will take about 20min. Stir from time to time to prevent burning.
  2. Cut the unpeeled potatoes into large chunks, place into a large saucepan and pour in enough water to just cover the potatoes. Add the caraway seed if using.
  3. Bring to a boil and cook for about 12 minutes.
  4. Next add the kale and cook for further 6 minutes.
  5. Drain the potatoes and kale, mash together with potato masher. You are not looking for a smooth mash, more a crushed potato texture.
  6. Stir the onions through the kale and potato mixture. Season with salt and black pepper.
  7. Enjoy it as a side dish, or like me eat a whole plateful on its own.


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