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Carb Diva's Colcannon Recipe (Irish Mashed Potatoes)

Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes one ingredient at a time.

Colcannon (Irish mashed potatoes)

Colcannon (Irish mashed potatoes)

Mashed potato is the Gentile’s chicken soup. It’s nature’s tranquilizer. I take it instead of valium.

— Andrew Payne

I Love Mashed Potatoes

I really like mashed potatoes. Actually, I love mashed potatoes. A few nights ago, my husband was watching a travel show on Ireland; they featured a local cook preparing colcannon, and it looked amazing! I'll explain what colcannon is in a moment. Anyhow, my husband turned to me and said "That looks really good. Could you make that for us?" How could I possibly say no? Thanks to my paternal grandma, I'm one-quarter Irish. And potatoes are a daily dietary requirement, aren't they?

Now, for an explanation of colcannon: simply put, it's buttery mashed potatoes swirled with green cooked cabbage and (occasionally) bits of pork in the form of Canadian bacon or ham.

Now, let's be honest; colcannon isn't exactly "health food." Potatoes and cabbage, on their own or together, are certainly health-conscious additions to one's diet. But the smoked pork and ample nobs of butter applied to the final product quickly reduce this recipe from a thoughtful dietary choice to a planned act of temporary insanity.

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Call me crazy—I love colcannon.


  • 2 pounds smoked pork neck bones
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 head cabbage or 1 bunch kale (stems and ribs removed), about 3 cups sliced
  • 2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, sliced
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup butter, divided


  1. Place pork neck bones in a crockpot (slow cooker). Cover with water and cook on low for 6-8 hours (3-4 hours on high) or until the meat is tender. Remove the meat from the cooker and set aside to cool. Reserve the water in the crockpot.
  2. Chop cabbage into small (1 inch) dice and add to water in the crockpot. Cover and cook on low one hour. Drain the cabbage and set aside.
  3. When cool enough to handle, remove all bones and fat from cooked pork. Set aside.
  4. Place potatoes in a steamer basket in a large saucepan with a lid. Cover and steam over low heat until the potatoes are done; a sharp knife should easily slide into the potato. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle remove skins; place peeled potatoes in a large bowl. Mash until no lumps remain; add 1/4 cup butter, 1 tablespoon at a time until all butter is incorporated. Heat milk in the microwave; add to potatoes and continue to whip until potatoes are creamy.
  5. Using a large spoon, stir cooked cabbage and cooked pork into mashed potatoes.
  6. Divide mixture among 4 serving bowls. Using a wooden spoon, make a well in the middle of each serving. Place 1 tablespoon of butter in each well.
  7. Luxuriate!

*Makes 4–6 servings

What About Corned Beef and Cabbage?

Two days ago, I was at my local grocery store, and I bought a head of cabbage specifically in preparation for making this dish. The clerk at the checkout line asked if I was making corned beef and cabbage. (Almost everyone who meets me assumes correctly that I'm part Irish. If the reddish-blonde hair and green eyes were not enough of a hint, the leprechaun stature is usually a dead giveaway.)

I laughed and tried to explain that corned beef and cabbage is an American dish. Any true Irishman seeing such a large chunk of meat on his table would have thought that he had died and gone to Heaven.

© 2013 Linda Lum

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