Monday, March 11, 2013


I haven't had too much luck with this blog in baking/cooking ahead for holidays. Meaning, cooking a holiday dish a week or two ahead of the actual holiday. I'm always cooking holiday dishes on the holiday in question. Then by the time I post the recipe its too late. The holiday has passed us by.
But not this year. . .
Not with St. Patrick's Day just a week away. . .
This time I planned ahead. . .
It's the dawn of a new era at Becky Bakes and Cooks. . .
Er, too dramatic? Ok, I'll dial it back a bit. Point is, here is an Irish dish that you can make for St. Patrick's Day. I'm giving you a whole week to check it out, get your ingredients together and get cookin'. 

You might have expected a post for Corned Beef and Cabbage. But, truth be told, I don't really like corned beef. Too salty. And cabbage, too bland. I've tried a couple of times to make Corned Beef and Cabbage, and while it sounds fun and festive, it just never seems to be that exciting, or tasty, when it hits the table. An Irish dish I do like is Colcannon. Never heard of it? Come on! It's probably more authentically Irish than Corned Beef. It don't really know for sure 'cause I ain't Irish. What I do know is, we all like it and that's good enough for me on St. Pat's Day. See for yourself. . .

Ingredients: Potatoes (I recommend Yukon Golds, but any potatoes will do. Make sure they're all about the same size.), cabbage, green onions, butter (Oh baby, lots of butter.), whole milk, ham, pepper and parsley (for garnish, optional.)

For this recipe you want to steam the potatoes. Scrub well, but do not peel the potatoes. Fill a stock pot with 2-3 inches of water. It should come up just to the bottom of the steamer basket (or pasta insert like I'm using here). Put the lid on and bring the water to a boil. When the water boils, load the potatoes into the steamer basket/pasta insert with the largest potatoes on the bottom. Cover and steam for 30 minutes. More or less time depending on how big your potatoes are. Potatoes are done when you can pierce them all the way through with a skewer. 

While the potatoes are steaming, core and finely shred the cabbage.

And finely dice the scallions.

Cut the ham into 1/4 inch pieces and sear in a hot skillet. You just want it to get a bit crispy on the edges and heated through. Set this aside. 

At this point, you can put the milk in a small pan. Heat on low just until scalded, don't let it boil.

When the potatoes are done, remove from the pot and let cool for 5-10 minutes until you can handle them without burning your fingers. When slightly cooled but still hot, use a small paring knife to remove all the peels. Roughly chop the potatoes and toss 'em into a large bowl. Mash until smooth, no lumps!

Cut one stick of butter into smaller pieces, add to the potatoes and mash until melted and throughly mixed in.

Next, using a large spoon, stir in the scalded milk. I do this a bit at a time so they don't get soupy. At this point, you'll have really loose mashed potatoes. That's ok, don't cut out any of the milk.

While you're mashing and mixing the potatoes, bring another large pot of water to a boil. (I actually used them same pot as the potatoes without the pasta insert, less dishes to do that way!) When the water is boiling, add the cabbage and cook for 5 minutes or so until tender and bright green in color.

Turn off the heat, throw in a pat of butter, cover and let sit for 2 or 3 minutes. Then drain completely.

Back to the potatoes: gently stir in the ham and green onions.

Then fold in the cabbage. Add lots of fresh ground black pepper. Taste and add salt if needed.

To serve, put a generous mound in a dish. Use a wooden spoon to make a small well in the center and add a pat of butter. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve. You can serve hearty portions for an entree or small portions for a side dish. 
Start a new Tradition this St. Patrick's Day.
Erin Go Bragh!

Adapted from:

1 1lb. ham steak
3 lbs. yukon gold potatoes
1/2 lb. (2 sticks) butter, divided
1-1/4 C. whole milk, scalded
1 head cabbage, cored and shredded
4 scallions, finely chopped
Ground black pepper
Chopped parsley, optional

Dice ham steak and brown in a skillet over medium heat. Remove from heat and set aside.

Put 2-3 inches of water in a large pot with a steamer basket. Bring to a boil. Scrub but don't peel potatoes. When water is boiling, add potatoes to steamer basket and cover pot with a lid. Let potatoes steam for about 30 minutes until easily pierced with a fork to the center. Time will be longer or shorter depending on the size of potatoes you use. Allow potatoes to cool slightly then use a small knife to peel off the skins. Chop potatoes into smaller pieces, then mash until there aren't any more lumps. Add 1/2 to 1 stick of butter cut into pieces, then gradually add milk stirring gently. Season to taste with black pepper.

While the potatoes are steaming, cook the cabbage. Add cabbage to boiling unsalted water and cook until tender and darker in color, turn off heat. Add 2 tablespoons of butter to the water, cover and let set 2-3 minutes. Drain completely and chop smaller if necessary.

Gently fold scallions, cabbage and ham into mashed potatoes. Fill bowl with a serving and use a spoon to make a small well in the center of the mound. Add 1 tablespoon butter into the well, sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Serves 6 as an entree, more as a side dish.

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