There are nights when a Guinness seems like a good idea. And there is nothing in the world that goes so well with a Guinness than colcannon cakes.
Colcannon is a traditional Irish food â€“ a mixture of mash potato and cabbage. Slightly fancier; add scallion and parsley. For all out perfection? Add shards of crispy bacon.
Served with a poached egg, this is a pretty heartening supper.
But there is one thing better than a plate of colcannon to eat with a Guinness. And that involves crossing colcannon with Boxty (a smooth potato cake) to make colcannon cakes, fried in foaming golden butter.
My Grandmother was a firm believer in potato cakes when I was growing up. Both in their unadulterated and mixed in with vegetable forms. Sheâ€™d eyeball flour into the potato mixture, until she could roll out the dough, then she would cut off vaguely triangular shapes with a knife and drop them into the frying pan as she went along. She was a one woman production line. Out of the pan, into my waiting mouth.
Sometimes I make small cakes for a party â€“ they can be made in advance and baked in a 400 oven for about 10 mins to warm through. I brush each one with butter just before serving. And hand round lots of napkins.
(makes about 8 ice-cream scoop cakes, Iâ€™d reckon on 2 per person with a poached egg as a main course, and Iâ€™d make enough for seconds, but with a drink, Iâ€™d make them smaller, tbsp sized and get about 16)800g potatoes 300g cabbage 3 scallions (spring onions) diced finely Â¼ cup parsley (chopped roughly) Â½ cup bacon chopped into lardons 1 cup of flour 2 tbsp butter (at least) Salt and pepper Vegetable oil for frying
- Peel and chop the potatoes, then rinse in cold water to get rid of some of the starch. Put in a pan, cover with cold water, salt well, then boil for about 20 minutes (depending on the size of the chunks) until tender
- While the potatoes are cooking, shred the cabbage finely and steam over the potatoes for 8 mins (or boil in a separate pan then drain well
- Fry the bacon. Pat dry on a paper towel
- Mix the chopped scallion, the bacon and the cabbage into the mashed potato â€“ you have colcannon!
Now to turn it into cakes: (You should have something in the region of 3 cups of colcannon.)
- Add the cup of flour to the colcannon and mix well
- Chill the mixture for 15 mins or so to make it easier to shape (if itâ€™s very wet, add more flour until the mixture feels stiff and shapeable)
- Use an ice cream scoop (or a spoon) to ball out the mixture, then flatten each ball to make a disk
- Fry in butter with a splash of oil to stop it burning for about 3 â€“ 4 minutes per side until golden
- Keep warm in the oven while you fry the rest of the mixture
- Serve with a poached egg for utter perfection
- Colcannon is delicious served with stew, or with some sausages and a dollup of mustard
If you can make that you can make this:
- Leave out the cabbage and add cooked flaked salmon to make fish cakes
- Add Â½ tsp of cumin, coriander and some fresh chopped mint to take these potato cakes in a more Indian direction
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