15 March 2010

St. Paddy's Countdown: Day 3- Irish Colcannon

I'm so very excited, because not only will I be in sunny, beautiful Arizona with all my favorite people in less than 48 hours, but also because the same day I get there is St Patrick's Day! This is my second favorite holiday of all time, falling only slightly behind Halloween... But of course, whenever March 17th comes around I always feel like this is really my favorite holiday.

Why, you might ask, is this, one of the most unrecognized holidays of them all, my second favorite? Well, how could it NOT be?! I'm partly Irish- I'm not entirely sure how Irish, exactly, but quite a good amount. That right there is reason enough to get decked out in green and orange and celebrate, but of course there is so much more about this holiday to take advantage of. Any culture that is best known for potatoes, drinking, and general merriment is one I'm happy to be a part of. So, the next three days I will be having a St Paddy's Countdown, posting recipes and such in preparation for the actual holiday.
The majority of my friends are either Irish, or at least have an Irish-like enthusiasm for this day. Thus, every year we all make WAY too much food and spend the entire day toasting to each others' health, all while guzzling down pounds of thick, cheesey mashed potatoes and Bailey's-topped ice cream. Washed down with Guinness, of course (the only time of the year any of us are willing to spend the extra cash on it).

Last year, I went all out and made Irish Colcannon, Vegan Corned Beef and Cabbage, regular Corned Beef and Cabbage for my omni friends, AND Bailey Irish Cream Cupcakes. This year, I'm not even going to be getting into Arizona until about 11:30 AM on St Paddy's so I figured I should perhaps tone it down a bit. Luckily my awesome friend A who shares my passion for cooking is going to be making the normal Corned Beef and Cabbage, so I don't have to deal with that :) My other wonderful friend J is making his usual Shepherd's pie, and our newish but well-loved member of the group R is going to be contributing a Corned Beef and Cabbage Pizza that sounds really interesting and yummy. But hey... where are the potatoes? Sure, there will be a fluffy layer on the top of the Shepherd's pie, but that hardly does these godly tubers justice, in my opinion. That means it's up to me to make a potato-ey dish worthy of the holiday.

Sure, you could just boil 'em or mash them up with some cream or even (*gasp*) buy a box of those flakey instant ones. But why... why would you want to do that when there are so many BETTER things you could do? And seriously, why buy instant potatoes when using real ones tastes twelve million times better and doesn't even take up that much more time?

Like I said, last year I made Irish Colcannon. It was the first time I had heard of it, let alone made it, so I pretty much just looked through internet recipes for a relatively easy and yummy sounding one and went for it. It was definitely good, and was almost as well-received as the Bailey's Cupcakes- those disappeared within minutes. This year, I don't want to have to work too hard cooking on the holiday itself (after getting up at 2 AM and traveling for 8 hours- yuck.), but I also want to make the most out of my 11 days with a car, a working oven, and a stocked kitchen (thanks Mom and Dad). Thus, I got the brilliant idea of taking my favorite mashed potatoes recipe ever (my grandma's) and "irish-ing it up" with some cabbage. Ta-da! Colcannon! That way, I'll get to make a dish I would've wanted to make anyways, AND it can serve as one of my contributions to the festivities. Now that's what I call two birds with one stone.

Of course, this is just a countdown... I'm not actually in Arizona yet, and I don't have a car, or an oven, or a kitchen. *sigh*. So, all I can do now is post the recipe, sans pictures and things. That's alright though, because I'll be taking lots and lots of pictures of St. Paddy's, so I'll be able to
upload them all then :) for now, just hang on and get ready to get yo' Irish on!

[disclaimer: My grandma used to use way less sour cream and cream cheese (yes, real sour cream and cream cheese... it's a holiday. If you want, you can use the vegan alternatives made by Toffuti and Follow Your Heart) than this recipe calls for- you can halve that bit if you want to. The result will be less rich, creamy, and tangy potatoes, but they'll still be good (and healthier). But hey, if you're feeling reckless, go all out on the fatty products. It's well worth the extra calories.]

Irish Colcannon

8 oz package of cream cheese
1 tsp garlic salt (or 1 tbsp fresh diced garlic and 1/2 tsp salt)
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup sour cream
2.5-3 pounds baking potatoes (I use about 6 or 7 medium/large russets)
1 head green cabbage
4 tbsp butter (or earth balance)

Instructions:Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Put a large pot of water on to boil while you peel the potatoes. Cut them into medium sized chunks and let them boil uncovered, checking every ten minutes or so until they are tender and "mashable".

While the potatoes are boiling, blend together the cream cheese, garlic salt (garlic and salt), pepper, and sour cream in a large mixing bowl until smooth. Chop the head of cabbage into medium chunks.

When the potatoes are done, drain them (into another pot, if you want to use the same water for the cabbage) and mash them until they have fine lumps (you can blend them if you don't want any lumps, or mash them less if you want more).

Put another pot of water on to boil if you are not using the same water from the potatoes. Once the water is boiling again, add two tbsp butter and the chopped cabbage. Let boil until tender but not completely cooked (it will finish cooking when you bake the whole dish).
While the cabbage is boiling, add the potatoes to the cream cheese mixture. Beat until fluffy and smooth.
Drain cabbage and chop into smaller pieces. Add to the potato mixture and beat/stir again until well combined. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon into a large buttered casserole dish. Dot with the remaining 2 tbsp of butter and sprinkle with paprika.
    Bake covered for 25 minutes. Uncover, and bake for 10 more minutes or until the top is golden brown.

    A lot of people serve colcannon in individual bowls with little "wells" inside each one, where they melt more butter so that people can dip each bite. This dish is already so rich I hardly find it necessary, but it's up to you! I can't wait to make this :) Happy St. Paddy's!


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