Colcannon: traditional Irish fare

bowl of colcannon

By TheCulinaryGeek from Chicago, USA – Colcannon, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57175245

Colcannon (gluten-free, contains dairy, optional meat)

by Reeve Gutsell

This traditional Irish potato dish is often made with either cabbage or kale. For meat eaters, it goes very well in combination with sausages, bacon, or corned beef.  The Hampshire College Farm sells both farm-raised sausages and bacon at the Hampstore if you are interested in keeping your meal local.

As a side note, this dish is often associated with Halloween, a day on which various trinkets were mixed in with the potatoes. If you found a button or a thimble, you were destined to remain single for the following year. If you found a ring you would get married, and a coin symbolized wealth. Surprisingly, a dentist bill was not included in the possibilities…

Another tradition included leaving out a plate of colcannon, with a pat of butter in the middle, for fairies and ghosts to enjoy.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Serves 4



3-4 medium potatoes, finely diced

1/2 cabbage or 5-6 leaves of kale, sliced into bite-sized strips

2-3 cloves garlic, diced finely or pressed in a garlic presser

1 leek, chopped

1/3 cup milk

1/4 stick butter

Salt and pepper to taste


1 spring onion, chopped for garnish

2 sausages cut into rounds,  4-6 slices of bacon, or 1/4 lb. corned beef



Bring a medium pot of lightly salted water to boil. While the water is heating up, wash and dice the potatoes, then boil until tender, about 10 minutes.

While the potatoes are cooking, saute the sausage or bacon, if using. When the meat is done, remove it from the pan. Add the leeks, garlic, and cabbage (or kale) to the sausage/bacon grease (or olive oil if you are not using meat) and cook until the cabbage is tender, about 4-6 minutes. Remove from heat, add the meat back into the pan, and cover.

By this point the potatoes should be done. Reduce the heat to low and drain the potatoes, setting aside. Put the potatoes, milk, butter, salt, and pepper back into into the pot. Mash the potatoes in the pot, mixing them thoroughly with the other ingredients as you go.

When thoroughly mashed, add in the meat, as well as the  leeks, garlic, and cabbage mixture. Stir thoroughly, garnish, and serve hot.

Reeve Gutsell is the Food, Farm, and Sustainability Program Coordinator at Hampshire College. She has a Master's degree in Resource Management and Conservation, as well as a long-term interest in the intersection of agriculture, environmental issues, social justice, and food systems. She enjoys the walking around the farm in all types of weather, and almost always finds something beautiful or interesting to explore.

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