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Irish mashed potatoes are perfect for St. Patrick’s Day. This colcannon recipe has cabbage and potatoes; add corned beef for a complete meal!
Irish mashed potatoes?
Colcannon has been enjoyed for more than a century and there’s a good reason: it’s creamy, comforting, and delicious.
This Irish mashed potato dish whips together chives, milk, butter, bacon, and just the right amount of cabbage. In fact, the word Colcannon stems from the Gaelic cal caenan’ which means ‘white-headed cabbage.’
Potatoes and cabbage, what could be more Irish than that? Adding corned beef, of course.
I like to serve traditional Irish mashed potatoes for St. Patrick’s Day in honor of my Irish heritage, but this dish is a fantastic way to spruce up the dinner table any day of the year.
A Word About Choosing the Right Potato
There are literally thousands of varieties of potatoes grown around the world, but the basic six types include:
Each type has specific characteristics that make it more suited for certain dishes. And since potatoes are loosely categorized by their starch content, it’s important to know the type of spud you need for your dish.
High starch tubers, like Russets, will have a soft texture when cooked and are well suited for baking and for mashing, but these tend to dry out, or else are easy to over boil, and that you do not want. No one likes a mushy potato after all.
Medium starch or all-purpose potatoes will be more on the smooth and waxy side. Blue potatoes fall into this category and are chock full of antioxidants. They are great steamed, baked, or boiled.
New Potatoes also land in this section on the starch scale. A “new” potato is any that is harvested while still young and small before its sugars have fully converted to starch. They’ll have thin skins, a very smooth waxy texture, and tend to be sweeter than many other types.
Low starch potatoes, like red, white, and fingerling, will have a smooth texture and work well in soups, stews, salads, etc.
I love using red potatoes for this recipe because the smooth texture complements the other ingredients well and I don’t have to worry about over boiling or about the dish being too dry.
Video: How to make colcannon (4 easy steps!)
Watch my video in the recipe card below and you’ll see just how easy this mouthwatering savory dish is to prepare!
- Boil the vegetables. First, boil the garlic and red potatoes until fork-tender. Drain and set aside.
- Cook the bacon, cabbage and kale. Next, use the same pan to cook the bacon until it’s crisp enough to chop easily. Keep the bacon fat in the pan and use it to saute the cabbage and kale, just until wilted. This will only take a couple of minutes.
- Combine and mash. Then, add the potatoes along with the milk and cream back into the pan and heat the mixture up while you mash everything to savory perfection.
- Garnish and serve! Serve the dish hot with a pat of butter, a sprinkle of bacon bits, and chopped chives over the top.
Fun facts about Irish mashed potatoes
- Potatoes are not originally from Ireland, but were introduced to the Emerald Isle by explorers four-hundred years ago and over time became synonymous with the island country.
- Variations of Irish Potatoes are found across Europe. The British have Bubble and Squeak and the Scottish call theirs Rumbledethumps. See if you can say that without smiling.
- While the dish is not as common in other parts of the world, they’re so beloved in Ireland that songs have been written about the creamy comfort food.
This post, originally published on Kevin Is Cooking in March 2015, was last updated with new content on Jan. 26, 2021.
Irish Mashed Potatoes (Colcannon) + Video
- 1 lb . red potatoes peeled
- 3 garlic cloves smashed
- 1 tbsp salt
- 4 pieces bacon rendered crisp
- 4 tbsp rendered bacon fat
- ¼ medium head green cabbage cored and thinly shredded
- 1 cup kale chopped
- ½ cup milk
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- salt to taste
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp chives chopped fine
- Wash and quarter the red potatoes. Smack the garlic cloves with the side of a kitchen knife to open and place in a large stockpot or Dutch oven with the potatoes and cover with water. Add kosher salt and bring to a boil over high heat, cook until fork tender. Drain and set aside.
- Return pan to medium-high heat, cook and render the bacon until crisp. Set aside to cool slightly and chop. Keep bacon fat in pan, add the cabbage and kale and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes.
- Add the potatoes back to the pan. Add the milk, cream, and black pepper, and bring to a boil. Using a potato masher, mash and stir potatoes until smooth and thoroughly incorporated with cabbage and kale. Add the bacon crumbles and season with kosher salt if needed. Transfer to a bowl, top with chopped chives and serve hot with butter on top.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.