California Colcannon

Colcannon is Irish soul food, a traditional dish little-known outside Ireland. It sounds horrible, but it's great. It consists of rich mashed potatoes containing cooked onions and greens, usually bright green kale or pale cabbage. Unfortunately, part of what makes colcannon so good is its vast quantity of cream and butter.

Here's a modern variation of colcannon lightened up and using goat cheese to provide the rich flavor without so many calories and so much saturated fat. It's basically the above recipe for adult mashed potatoes with sautéed onions and greens replacing the garlic.

The greens contribute bitterness to balance the richness of the cheese. They can be anything from kale or chard to arugala or dandelion greens. An interesting alternative is radicchio, which isn't green but contributes a similar taste. I've even made it with expensive spring green mixtures sold in upscale markets.

For this recipe, Chinese cabbage adds a California twist. Whatever green you choose, make sure it's cooked but crisp before adding to the potatoes. For as appealing bright color for the greens (which I recommend), blanch them for 30 seconds in boiling water, then chill in cold water before sautéing. This dish tastes quite rich, and excels with simple roast chicken or sausages.


3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups shredded Chinese (Nappa) cabbage or other greens
1 chopped medium onion
3 large russet potatoes
1 16 oz. can chicken broth
2 oz (5 tablespoons) soft goat cheese
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons margarine
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil and add onions and greens, sautéing until soft up not overdone. Remove from heat.

Peel potatoes and cut into 1-inch cubes.

Heat broth, then add potatoes. The broth should just cover the potatoes. Simmer until potatoes are soft, then mash. You should have the right amount of broth for a stiff mixture, but drain if necessary.

Then add cheese and margarine and mix well.

Add milk and reserved broth for desired consistency.

Mix in sautéed onion and greens. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serves four.