What is Colcannon anyway?

It’s a traditional Irish dish enjoyed anytime of the year but particularly at Hallowe’en, or as it’s called around here, Samhain.  There are a number of methods of making Colcannon, it is nearly as contentious a recipe as that for Dublin Coddle.

I make my Colcannon with creamy mashed potatoes, the only addition to this is a slurp of warm milk before mashing the spuds as this will make your potatoes creamy without the inclusion of butter.  I gently fry some chopped onions in a knob of butter until they are soft and nearly translucent before adding a pinch of salt, a decent grate of fresh nutmeg and some shredded raw kale. Once the kale has softened, I stir this green mixture into the mashed potato, crack some black pepper on top and we’re ready to go.

When I was growing up Colcannon was served with greaseproof paper wrapped parcels with matchsticks, coins, rags and a ring inside. Each holds a different, and very much dated meaning.  If you got a matchstick you would be beaten by your spouse, coins indicated wealth, rags for poverty and the ring meant you would marry your true love.  The same tradition of hiding parcels was done for the Barmbrack too (Bairín Breac), which is a yeast based fruit bread with a flavour not dissimilar to hot cross buns.

While you’re making your Colcannon, consider reserving some for the following day. It will be worth the effort now to save time!

Leftover Colcannon

Serves 2 hungry adults & 2 small children


  • 1 tablespoon sunflower/rapeseed oil
  • 1 knob of butter
  • 300g cold Colcannon
  • 3 or more fresh eggs
  • 1 large handful of fresh tomatoes
  • Salt & pepper to taste


Take a large, heavy bottomed frying pan and place it on a medium heat. Pour in the sunflower oil and once warm, add the knob of butter. If the frying pan smokes, it is too hot.

Shape the leftover Colcannon into patties using your hands. Gently slide them into the butter/oil mixture and leave to sizzle until they begin to caramelise on the bottom. This should take about 7 minutes or so.

Crack the eggs into the spaces in the frying pan around the patties and keep the pan on the heat until the white of the egg is cooked through, but the yolk is still runny.

Remove the frying pan from the heat and place it on a heat-proof mat in the middle of the table, Chop fresh tomatoes into the centre and allow the family to help themselves to what they like (with a little bit of help for the smaller family members).

This recipe originally appeared on my blog, Wholesome Ireland.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

, , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: