Sunday, March 11, 2012

Colcannon--An Irish Tradition

Growing up in Virginia meant celebrating St. Patrick's day with the "wearing of the green" if one had an article of clothing that was green.  As far as I know,  there was no dying of anything green, no parades and the markets were not filled with corned beef and cabbages.  I was quite surprised to find that St. Patrick's day celebrations were started in pre-revolutionary war America by Irish Protestant immigrants.  They wanted to celebrate their heritage and introduce others to their customs.  Obviously they had great success!

Chicago goes all out for St. Paddy's Day!  There is a parade held on the Saturday before St. Patrick's Day.  This year, the 17th is on a Saturday.  The city will be a sea of green!  Maybe I should say a "river of green" since the Chicago River will be dyed green this coming week.  That tradition was started in 1962 when green dye was used to check for sewer discharges.  There was an "aha" moment when the workers had a vision of the entire river flowing green.  It is quite a spectacle from the bridges.

In my search for our St. Patrick's Day menu, I came across a recipe that hasn't been on our table in awhile.  It has long been a dish served from Irish kitchens.  I came across this little ditty that I'm sure Irish cooks hum when preparing colcannon.

The Little Skillet Pot

"Did you ever eat Colcannon, made from lovely pickled cream?
With the greens and scallions mingled like a picture in a dream.
Did you ever make a hole on top to hold the melting flake
Of the creamy, flavoured butter that your mother used to make?"


"Yes you did, so you did, so did he and so did I.
And the more I think about it sure the nearer I'm to cry.
Oh, wasn't it the happy days when troubles we had not,
And our mothers made Colcannon in the little skillet pot."

The dish is usually prepared with cabbage as the green.  I found some nice Brussels sprouts in the market and decided to use them.

In full disclosure, that is not a shamrock decorating the dish.


2 pounds of russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large pieces
2 cups Brussels sprouts, cut in half,  steamed until al dente and then sliced
2 green onions, minced
6 Tbsp butter, cut into pieces
1 cup of whole milk, hot
Salt and pepper to taste

1.  Cover the potatoes with water, add salt and bring to a boil, cover the pan and reduce the heat to a simmer.  Check for doneness after about 15 minutes.  When done, drain most of the water away and mash.
2.  To the still hot potatoes, immediately add the minced green onions and stir in.  Add the butter and the hot milk and stir occasionally as the butter melts.
3.  Stir in the Brussels sprouts.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.



  1. I grew up eating this dish and not just on st. Patricks Day, iy was a staple in our house.Yummo!My mum didit a bit different though but its all good.

  2. what nice and delicious look this!!:)

  3. wish i had a plate of the colcannon now. yummy looking. and the photos are perfect for st pat day.
    Savannah, GA my home town, does the same as Chicago, they go bonkers and always have, but I never took part in any of it and when a teen went to the parade to oggle the soldiers that marched in the parade. Savannah is a military town with 4 bases within 40 miles so there were hundreds to oggle, did not even realize the wearing of the green was a part ha ha

  4. Love the little ditty and this recipe makes me want to be be Irish for more than just one day a year.

  5. oh that looks yummy! i can't remember when you left roanoke but they have a really great st paddy's fest now! we went last year and it was the best fest i've been too...we have anxiously been waiting to go this year, which is next weekend :)

    we both have irish in our ancestry....i guess that's where my little guys get their red hair!

  6. I will make a corned beef with cabbage and all the trimmings. We like to eat cold corned beef the next day, on rye, with a spread made from mustard, horseradish and sour cream! Yum.
    Your dish looks fabulous!
    Happy Sunday to you.
    XO Kris

  7. so delicious... and so perfect for St Paddy's Day!... I adore colcannon and brussles sprouts is genius!..

  8. I was born in Ireland and my mother often made this. I make it also and use either spinach, kale or cabbage.
    Love it!

  9. This would be kind of strange...of course I have heard of it good, do you like it? How close are you to the river, will you be snapping it for your blog? I like your little brussel shamrock!!

  10. I've never had it, but I know I would love it!

  11. Don't know if my original comment went through, so I'll try again---I think your idea of using Brussels Sprouts in colcannon is brilliant, they have so much more flavor than cabbage---I'm bookmarking it right now, Happy St. Paddy's Day!

  12. And do you serve with corn beef? You could start with the green broccoli soup! Would love to see that chicago River colored green!

  13. Never ever heard of this before - - - I think I'd adore it, not sure if Fisherhubby would TRY potatoes with "greens" stirred in!

  14. What a wonderful version of colcannon. It looks tempting and delicious andI love that you used Brussels Sprouts instead of cabbage or kale. Have a wonderful weekend. Blessings...Mary

  15. Sounds like a great dish! Brussels sprouts were gorgeous at my produce store last Saturday too, just used the last of them today:@)

  16. I've never eaten this but it does sound good. I guess I never really looked closely at a recipe for Colcannon, because I didn't realize it was made with cabbage and potatoes. Now I wonder what I ever thought it was!? Ha!


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