What Is Colcannon And What Does It Taste Like?

Colcannon is the traditional Irish side dish that is especially ubiquitous on holidays like St. Patrick's Day. The iconic dish is essentially a mash-up of a starchy side and a veggie side that features a buttery mashed potato that's mixed with fresh greens and herbs (via Farmer's Almanac). It is excellent as a side for almost any protein, but a tried and true combination is corned beef, colcannon, and soda bread. The word colcannon comes from the term "cal ceannann," which means white-headed cabbage in Gaelic. The flavor is rich, buttery, and very filling, with slight bits of textural differentiation from the greens. 

Colcannon is also high in both calories and nutrients, while also still being incredibly economical. According to Atlas Obscura, potatoes first arrived in Ireland in the late 16th century and everyone loved them. Since then families have been making their own versions of colcannon that's traditionally mixed with potatoes, cabbage or leeks. However, folks seem to be more adventurous these days adding scallions, kale or even bacon (via Farmer's Almanac).

Interesting facts about colcannon

The Spruce Eats notes that colcannon is typically seen on Irish tables during Halloween, with little trinkets you can find in the mash. Each trinket represents something different from fortune to poverty. The Irish Examiner adds that colcannon is traditionally eaten as a way to "keep evil spirits away." There are even traditional songs associated with colcannon, according to European Cuisines. Here's a snippet of the lyrics: "God be with the happy times, when trouble we had not, and our mothers made colcannon, in the little three-legged pot."

It's safe to say that if you have potatoes and a few kitchen standbys on hand (cream, milk, butter, salt, pepper, and greens), that you'll be able to whip up some colcannon in no time. Also, no need to wait for Halloween or St. Patrick's Day because colcannon is a delicious dish that can be had any day of the year.