colcannon

Bangers and mash is a traditional English dish and the quintessential “pub food”; it can be made for large groups of people at once with relative ease. This isn’t your standard bangers and mash dish since it’s typically served with beef or pork sausage and mashed potatoes, and I’m being crazy and using lamb sausage and colcannon. Regardless, this dish still has the same desired effect: it’s a hearty, savory dish that really hits the spot on a rainy day.

A perfect sausage for this dish was Lava Lake Lamb’s Rosemary and Garlic Sausage, which had a rich sausage flavor but was only slightly “lamby” in taste – in the end it was an excellent pairing of this savory sausage and the mild, buttery colcannon.

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NOTE: An updated version of this recipe appears in my cookbook, The Ancestral Table.

Although there are variations of potato/kale combos found all over Europe, I’m inclined to believe that the Irish variation, colcannon, is grandaddy of them all. First of all, the Irish basically own the creative rights to cabbage. The Romans introduced cabbage to most of Europe back in the day, except that when they got to Ireland it was already there! By tracing the word for cabbage linguistically, it appears that cabbage has been a part of the Irish (well, Celt at the time) diet since the Iron age. Potatoes weren’t introduced to Europe until the 16th Century, with the Irish and French being the first to really embrace them, and so colcannon came about sometime thereafter.

Although colcannon is treated as a St. Patrick’s Day dish here in the US, it’s traditionally a Halloween dish in Ireland. Some families would put a plate of colcannon outside their front door with a large chunk of butter in the middle to feed ghosts/fairies that were passing by. It also was closely related to marriage divination, in that trinkets (wedding rings, coins) would be hidden in the colcannon and the girl that found the trinket would be the next to marry.

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