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The Memory Dish - Colcannon inspired by St Patrick's Day

Friday 14 March 2014

I eat colcannon so often that it's almost lost any Paddy's Day association with me. It's just something I love to make - mostly due to my undying love of kale and potatoes. Together, they're a joy. This is usually served up with a glazed, baked joint of bacon, but is a good solid side dish any day of the year.

1.4kg potatoes
100g kale (way more than it sounds)
4 scallions/spring onions
Handful of parsley
50g butter (salted - always salted)
300ml milk (or cream)

1. Steam your spuds until more than tender. There's nothing worse than thinking your spuds are done, then battling with a masher when you realise they're not perfectly soft. This actually causes arguments in my house, especially if they're being boiled instead of steamed. One person lives in perpetual fear of them turning to mush, whereas that's what I aim for. I also burn the arse out of the pan underneath the steamer with alarming regularity. I'm beginning to think that this gives the potato an amazing smoked vibe, though.

2. If you have a separate steamer, steam your chopped kale for about 5 minutes. Don't let it overcook, but it can taste bitter if not steamed for long enough. If you don't have a separate one, or don't want to dirty two pans, you can do this when the potatoes are finished.

3. While the kale is cooking, splosh your butter and milk/cream into the potatoes and put on a low heat. It's best to add the milk bit by bit - you're aiming for a smooth mash, but you don't want it too sloppy. Mash until smooth. You can do this with a potato ricer, to get a super smooth texture, but honestly? They take forever to use, even longer to clean, and the difference isn't that incredible. Save your money and arms and go without, I say.

4. Taste your mash, and season. If no one's watching and you think it needs it, whack in a bit more butter. And maybe cream. I think some grated cheese would be amazing at this stage too, but it's not very traditional.

5. Mix in the kale, parsley and scallions.

6. Serve with your baked ham, or just a fried egg on top for a weekday supper. If you want to embrace Paddy's Day, wrap a euro coin in tin foil and hide it somewhere in the colcannon. Tell your dinner guests this is happening, lest they lose a filling and sue.

And a Happy St Patrick's Day to you all! Though if you've ever said "Patty's Day", you're dead to me.

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