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Cabbage and Potatoes. Have you ever EATEN cabbage and potatoes mixed together?
You WON'T like it!
As a side dish, IT STINKS. Often literally if they have overcooked the cabbage and it has all gone to a sulfurous ill wind.
But here I am, eating Colcannon for the first time, and ENJOYING it. It is a delightful surprise. And yes, I am having this, for lunch, even as I write.
But there are myths about Colcannon.
One is that it is just cabbage and potatoes, and if you are desperate, perhaps it is. (But if I were that desperate I'd eat them separately.)
Colcannon is NOT the poverty dish that Burgoo or Haggis is. But Colcannon is the thing you always have. It is the staples that GET YOU THROUGH The winter.
Colcannon is made of the Preserved ingredients that you use from all winter. The cabbage that lasts until early spring, and the potatoes that HAVE to last all winter long. It has CURED meats, because they store in the attic for many months of winter. It is WINTER food. If they ate it on St. Patrick's Day, they did so because that is what was left at that time of year, of their winter food.
So cabbage and potatoes it MUST have - unless you are one of those weird people that substitutes Rice or Noodles for the Potatoes, or one of those sorry beings who thinks turnips are food, and uses them IN or INSTEAD OF the potatoes. Sorry, no substitute for the cabbage.
Colcannon (Irish and Scots name for it, in Wales, Kolknyn), is now described as a Side Dish, and it isn't meant to be. It is meant to be the Entree. Often the entire meal.
It uses MORE ingredients than are often listed. It is a HEARTY meal when you make it right.
I suppose you want a recipe? Well, I have one. But it isn't the ONLY one.
Just so you can be discriminating, I'll tell you, it should have MORE than just cabbage and potatoes. It should have MORE than just cabbage, potatoes, and onions. And even more than just cabbage, potatoes, onions, and BACON!
It should be so loaded with nutrient dense food, that you eat it and feel satisfied.
So here is MY recipe. It was WELL WORTH making.
Olde Scots Colcannon (Given to me by an Old Scot of the Duncan Clan)
- 2 cups mashed potatoes (with MILK or cream, and BUTTER - LOTS OF BUTTER, and SALT)
- 2 TBSP bacon fat (Do NOT leave this out. Do NOT reduce the amount. Add MORE if you want, but NEVER LESS. It won't be Colcannon if you do.)
- 1/2 package (or more) bacon bits (or fresh fried bacon)
- 1/2 cup smoky ham pieces
- 1 small head of cabbage (should be LESS than the amount of the potatoes - I had a LEETLE WEE cabbage head.)
- 1 small chopped onion
- Optional seasoning salt.
Cook tender in butter. CAUTION... don't overcook the cabbage to gray mush that smells of dog farts. Please. Just keep it sweet and firmly tender.
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- Sprinkle of seasoning salt and salt.
Assemble into a casserole dish. Layer Potatoes, and cabbage, and pour HALF the eggs over. Repeat.
Wensleydale Cheese is traditional, but Colby, and Cheddar are also frequently used. The funny thing about Wensleydale is that it was NOT a commercial cheese until recently. It was a COTTAGE made cheese, and other than being firm and crumbly, had no defining characteristics other than that it was made in the region and called Wensleydale. Even today, flavors vary widely between manufacturers. So Wallace apparently has a corner deli that makes their own cheese that he frequents.
Top the casserole with a good layer of cheese.
Bake at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until the egg is set all the way through, and the cheese is melty and browned on the edges.
Serve with fresh bread or rolls, and stewed tomatoes or baked beans, or green beans.
- Other cured meats can be used. Smoked Sausage, or bulk savory sausage are good choices.
- Mushrooms may be added.
- Parsnips can be added in a separate layer.
- Carrots can be added with the cabbage (shredded and cooked with it)
- Celery can be cooked in with the cabbage.
Part of the process of recovering from Crohn's Disease has been learning how to combine foods so they digest and metabolize more easily. The right food combinations can really help in both instances.
The first thing I learned was how to eat eggs and tuna again. Eggs need ketchup or salsa. Tuna needs relish or mustard. If I eat them that way, then I never have indigestion from them, and rarely have anything but mild diarrhea (instead of severe). I also learned to eat beans again - overcooked, and with tomato.
The common factor for meats being acids - fruits, pickles, etc. And cheese. Cheese also works.
Vegetables have been a whole different thing. They don't respond to fruits like meat does. They needed something else.
The first guess was fats. And fats it has been.
Butter, lard, bacon fat, coconut oil, and other fats. But mostly ANIMAL fats. Animal fats supply elements that vegetable fats do not.
And here we have Colcannon. We don't LIKE potatoes and cabbage together, because our bodies can't USE them without other things added.
The bacon fat in the Colcannon is more than just tasty. It is magic. When you put a bite of this into your mouth, your body knows EXACTLY what to do with it. The eggs, milk, cheese, and meat also help round out a more complex digestive and metabolic combination.
From Colcannon, we progress to other foods that are difficult to appreciate. I hear that overcooking, adding butter AND bacon fat, and adding a seasoning salt with MSG can even help people enjoy eating TURNIPS! I'll have to try it some day, when I can grow, or buy, a turnip. Because that is ONE VEGETABLE that I do not eat. So if combining THAT with something makes it edible, we really have a method going on!
So keep trying new foods. Keep trying old foods in new ways. The combinations really do matter, and flavor really does tell your body how to use it.
And now we another version which has more flavor, but is also made with convenience ingredients.
Follow the instructions above, but use these mixtures.
1. Potatoes - Use flavored instant potatoes, in the small packets. You can pick any flavor you love to use in this. Be sure to add 1/4 cup butter to this.
Use Bacon Bits, and SOME KIND of meat dripping. Bacon fat is best, but hamburger, lamb, pork or chicken fat, or even sausage drippings, will do just fine.
2. Cabbage - Use a package of coleslaw mix. Fry it in butter.
Try adding soy sauce instead of salt, for more flavor.
If you don't have fresh onion, and don't have time to reconstitute dried onion, sprinkle in some onion powder or granules.
3. Egg - same mixture.
4. Cheese - same as above. We use packaged shredded cheese.
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