Colcannon with Smoked Salt & Voatsiperifery
In Ireland, a bowl of colcannon is the essence of home and coziness — pure comfort. It’s basically mashed potatoes with cooked cabbage or kale mixed in. The brassica component is essential, as is plenty of butter with onion, leeks, or Irish bacon added at the cook’s discretion. Colcannon is filling enough to serve as a one-dish supper, but it also makes a lovely side with ham or roasted chicken.
For this kale version, I introduced smoky, caramelized flavors by using our applewood smoked salt and browning the onions. To wake the flavors up, my colcannon is finished with a generous pinch of coarsely ground voatsiperifery black pepper, which adds sparkling notes of citrus and pine along with a little kick of heat.
2 pounds potatoes, scrubbed (Yukon Gold or other all-purpose potatoes)
1 tablespoon neutral-tasting oil, such as canola or grapeseed
Half a medium onion, peeled and slice in thin crescents
5–6 curly kale leaves, stems removed, leaves cut in thin ribbons
1⁄2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1⁄2 cup milk
2 tablespoons salted butter, plus extra for serving
1 tablespoon applewood smoked salt, crushed
2 teaspoons Voatsiperifery, coarsely ground
2 tablespoons crème fraîche or buttermilk
Salt (for sautéing and boiling)
Boil the potatoes Put the potatoes in a large pot and add water to cover by 1 inch. Add a big handful of salt (as you would for pasta). Set over high heat and bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and gently boil until the potatoes are tender (a knife pokes in easily), about 20 minutes.
Cook the onions and kale Put the oil and onions into a large skillet set over medium-high heat, add a pinch of sea salt. Sauté until the onions are very soft and the edges are well browned. Reduce the heat to medium and add the kale to the skillet, toss to combine with the onions. Add 1⁄2 cup of water and cover the skillet. Cook for about 2 minutes, then check that the kale has wilted, stir, and cook, uncovered, for a further minute or so to evaporate any remaining water. Sprinkle on the cider vinegar, toss, and set aside.
Make the mash Put the milk, 2 tablespoons of butter, and a pinch of voatsiperifery into a small pan set over low heat. Drain the potatoes in a colander and let them cool and dry for a couple of minutes. Pull on a pair of rubber gloves and peel the still hot potatoes using the edge of a knife (the skin will come away easily). Cut the potatoes into chunks and return them to the pot used to boil them. Mash the potatoes partially, then add the warm milk and butter, 11⁄2 teaspoons of the smoked salt, a big pinch of the voatsiperifery and the crème fraîche or buttermilk. Finish mashing the potatoes. Stir the kale and onions into the mash and taste for seasoning; adding more salt or pepper as needed.
To serve Mound a generous serving of colcannon into warmed soup bowls. Poke a hole in the top of each mound of colcannon and stick a little chunk of butter into it. Sprinkle with a pinch of smoked salt and voatsiperifery. Tuck in right away!
Leftovers keep in the fridge for a couple of days; reheat them in the microwave for a fine lunch.