Colcannon. What the heck is colcannon? Those were my thoughts exactly this week when I was trying to decide what to make in preparation for St. Patrick’s Day! Well, all I can say is that the Irish were up to something delicious when they started making this simple dish. Basically colcannon is mashed potatoes on serious steroids. Potatoes mixed with greens that could include, cabbage or kale and green onions or leeks. Typically, colcannon is served as a side dish to any meat (think corned beef), a ham steak or sausages. I have even read that colcannon is considered pub “grub” in Ireland. Can you imagine sitting in a pub drinking your favorite pint and eating a plate of colcannon with Irish sausage? Holy cow, you would have to roll me out of the bar due to carb overload! Ha!
I decided with my version to go off the edge and really mix it up as I am not a big potato eater (except french fries, I love french fries). I made my version with sweet potatoes (great flavor), regular potatoes, bacon, cabbage and leeks! Truth be told, I have never cooked cabbage in butter before. It takes on such a soft, sweet flavor that pairs great with leeks and bacon. Oh, the bacon isn’t a typical addition to colcannon either but as the saying goes, “everything is better with bacon”! I just had to add it to my version of colcannon and I’m so glad it did. It’s addicting.
Let’s talk sausage. Irish sausage is not to be confused with a “banger”. Banger is an English term for sausage and from what I have read, it’s offensive to call on Irish sausage a banger. So it’s not a banger, it’s a sausage… Anyway, Irish sausage is a combination of ground meat (I used pork), a “binder” (bread crumbs), eggs and various herbs. I know you have probably never thought about making your own sausage but why not? You can make it just about as fast as you can unwrap the package of a store bought sausage and bonus points, you know what exactly is going into the finished product! Making sausage patties is perfect for the home cook as most of us don’t own one of those sausage making machines or let alone have a box of sausage casings laying around! Sausage patties rule in my book!
Make up a big batch of colcannon with Irish sausage for your St. Patrick’s Day festivities. Heck, you may love it so much that It may make it’s way to your Easter table as well!
Quick side note, I’m gonna be MIA for the next couple of weeks! Don’t be sad, I’ll be back with an enormous adventure to tell you about!
- For the Colcannon
- 1 large russet potato
- 1 large sweet potato
- 4 slices thick cut bacon
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 cups green cabbage, shredded
- 1 cup leek, sliced into rounds
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼-1/2 cup half and half or milk
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- salt and pepper
For the Irish Sausage
- 1 pound ground pork
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ cup plain bread crumbs
- 1 egg
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 2 teaspoons marjoram
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- Fill a large stock pot with cold water and season with a tablespoon of salt. Cut the potato and sweet potato into thirds and put in the pot. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes become tender, about 15-20 minutes. Drain the water and put the potatoes into a large bowl. Mash the potatoes with a masher or through a potato ricer. Add the butter and half and half and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- In a large saute pan, cook the bacon until crisp. Remove and set aside.
- In the same pan with the bacon drippings add 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the cabbage, leeks, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook until the vegetables become tender about 5 minutes. Crumble in the reserved bacon.
- Add the cabbage mixture to the potatoes and combine well.
- To make the sausage. In a medium sized bowl combine the pork, egg, breadcrumbs, garlic, salt, pepper, marjoram, thyme and fennel seeds. Form the sausage into golf ball sized pieces and flatten with your hand to form patties.
- Fry the patties in a saute pan coated with olive oil over medium heat. Because they are small it should take no longer than 5 minutes.
Tip for cooking the sausage. Take a couple of teaspoons of the pork mixture and fry in the pan before cooking the whole batch. Taste it to make sure the seasoning is on point. If not adjust the seasoning before cooking the remaining patties.