breakfast/brunch, savoury/savory, side dish
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Colcannon: A Traditional Irish Potato Dish

Elves and Dragons! Cabbages and potatoes are better for me and you. Don’t go getting mixed up in the business of your betters, or you’ll land in trouble too big for you.

J.R.R Tolkien

Last weekend, one of my friends came to visit. We spent nearly all weekend cooking and eating, eating and cooking. From pizza baguettes to chicken sandwiches to stuffed zucchinis and a hummus platter, we had it all. Some adventures were had, lessons were learnt, and other lessons were re-discovered. It was so much fun, and we had a great time just chatting and creating.

One thing we both discovered was how fast time goes when you are cooking with someone else. Or, really, just doing anything with someone else. The morning after she arrived, we got up at 8.00 as we had to leave at 9.15 to help at a party for some local kids. Somehow 8.45 came with a bang when we had barely started preparing breakfast (nevermind actually being dressed). We had envisioned a lazy breakfast of scrambled eggs and avocado toast, lingered over with a cup of steaming tea. Instead, we were scrambling to eat everything at 9.10 whilst pulling on jackets, socks, and scarves. 

Amongst all the scrumptious food, I had planned on re-making one of the dishes I’d prepared for my Hallowe’en party last Thursday—Colcannon—which is my favourite Hallowe’en dish. However, I didn’t have enough kale left in my fridge, and, when we went to the shops, I forgot to include it on the list so we both suffered. However, I made it again this week and shared it with my friend, Becky. It’s simple, tasty, and a great way to use up a big batch of kale.

Traditionally, Colcannon is made with curly kale, but savoy cabbage or scallions can also be substituted. You can usually find a tin-foil covered coin in the dish at Hallowe’en. Sadly, in Korea, beggars can’t be choosers, and whilst I can find kale, the curly variety remains elusive. In fact, the first time I made it here I substituted cabbage, but since then I’ve managed to find kale which makes me happy beyond belief. Although the dish is traditional, everyone has a slightly different recipe their Mammy used to cook…my Mammy might be American, but she makes a mean Colcannon as her recipe is the same one that my Granny O (who is my Dad’s mam) made. 

Fried Colcannon

Here is the recipe I follow and love, and is definitely based on what my Mam makes:

Colcannon: A Traditional Irish Potato Dish



  • 5- 6 largish potatoes, peeled, quartered and washed.
  • 3 packed cups of (curly) kale*, stalks removed and finely diced
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 tbsp butter,
  • 2 – 3 tbsp milk
  • Salt, for seasoning
  • Pepper, for seasoning
  • Milk and butter, for mashing**
  • Butter, for serving


  1. Cover the potatoes with cold water and bring to a boil on high heat for around 15-20 minutes until tender.
  2. Meanwhile, bring another pot of water to a boil. Add the kale and bring back to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for around 10 minutes until tender. Drain and set aside.
  3. Using the same pot that the kale was in, add butter over medium heat. Once melted, add the onion and some seasoning. Saute gently.
  4. Once the onions are soft are soft and translucent, add the 2-3 tbsp of milk and let it cook for around 2 minutes.
  5. Then, add the cooked kale and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Once ready, drain and mash the potatoes with a generous splash of milk (around 2 tbsp), a knob of butter, salt, and pepper. Stir in the onion and kale mixture and serve hot with another knob of butter. 

*As mentioned above, you can also use savoy cabbage, scallions or other kale varieties if you can’t get curly kale.

**You can use more or less of the milk to mash your potatoes based on your personal preferences.


Leftovers: Leftovers are really good fried: Melt 1- 2 tbsp butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the remaining leftover colcannon and season liberally with pepper and a bit of salt. You want the mix to be golden brown, so only stir occasionally. Some of the potato will stick to the frying pan, but just scrape it up and mix it in to the rest of the potatoes. You can also add another onion and fry before adding the colcannon. Serve with baked beans, fried mushrooms and/or a little ketchup. Alternatively, use the colcannon to make potato pancakes.

Lactose Free Option: Saute the onions and kale in olive oil,  You can also mash the potatoes with olive oil, and, if you want, a splash of non-dairy milk.

One-Ring Cooking:  Boil the kale first, and follow it up with the onion mix. Then boil, drain and mash your potatoes. Add in the kale-onion mix and serve.





  1. Pingback: Traditional Irish Dish with a Twist: Shepherd’s Pie | Spoon in a Saucepan

  2. Thanks for sharing this recipe, Maggie 🙂 It’s really nice to find some traditional dishes among so many cupcakes, macarons and instant noodles! 🙂

    • Thanks, Lily! It’s definitely up there as one of my favourite traditional recipes and anytime I eat it, I am reminded of Hallowe’en so that’s good, too!

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