Recipe for Turkey Colcannon: Leftover Turkey Rescued by Traditional Irish Comfort Food
Colcannon is a traditional Irish dish made from two main ingredients: potatoes and cabbage or kale. Milk or cream and butter are added, and the dish is usually seasoned with salt or pepper. My family’s basic recipe for colcannon enjoys great success especially after Thanksgiving as an easy, satisfying way to use up leftover turkey.
Colcannon (Irish: cal ceann fhionn, “white-headed cabbage”) is a traditional Irish dish which is popular year-round for everyday as well as festive occasions. With its two basic ingredients, potatoes and cabbage or kale, smoothed with milk or cream and butter, seasoned with pepper and salt, colcannon is easy to prepare and welcomes creative variations, especially with leftovers. The problem of holiday leftovers, such as Thanksgiving turkey or Christmas goose or Easter ham, is solved deliciously and easily by adding them to colcannon. Sage delicately complements turkey, so it is a necessary seasoning in my family’s recipe for turkey colcannon.
Kale is a form of cabbage with green or purple leaves and is especially attractive in its curly-leaved variety. Apart from flavor nuances discerned by afficionados, cabbage primarily differs from kale by the distinctive head formed by its leaves. My family’s basic recipe calls for red cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. capitata f. rubra), which presents a colorful medley of dark red/purple laced with white in its interior leaves. An interesting aspect of red cabbage is that it turns blue with cooking. A dose of vinegar retains the redness. Thus, sometimes my family allows for the blueness, which is as strikingly unusual as blue corn, and sometimes we opt for redness. Either way, colcannon is superb comfort food.
Red potatoes are favorites in my family’s recipe because of their cheery colorfulness and their cooperative texture. Potatoes may be peeled for colcannon, but our recipe retains the skins, which respond flavorfully to stove-top cooking. On the rare occasions that skins are removed, the peelings are reserved as hearty additions to purées and quiches.
Other traditional additions include chives, leeks, onions, or scallions. My family’s recipe generally calls for red onions, because of their color and mild sweetness, or for pearl onions, because of their pure whiteness and mild sweetness.
My Family’s Recipe for Turkey Colcannon
- 2 pounds red potatoes, chopped into chunks
- 1/2 head of red cabbage, cored and chopped
- (NOTE: I freeze the core for later addition to purées)
- cold water: enough to cover cabbage and potatoes
- 1/2 pound pearl onions or red onions, chopped
- 8 Tablespoons (1 stick) of butter, softened
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 cups turkey leftover, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon rubbed Dalmatian sage
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1) Set out stick of butter to soften.
2) In a large saucepan, combine chunks of potatoes and cabbages.
- Add enough water to cover and bring to a rapid boil over high heat.
- Reduce heat to medium, add onions, and cover, cooking until potatoes are fork-tender, about 20 minutes.
3) Drain water and return pan to burner, reducing heat to low.
- Quickly and coarsely mash potatoes in pan while slowly adding softened butter and milk.
4) Increase heat to medium and add chopped turkey leftovers, stirring to blend.
- Sprinkle seasonings (sage, black and white peppers, sea salt) evenly across ingredients and stir to blend.
- Allow to simmer for about 10 minutes.
5) Remove pan from burner and transfer to serving plate.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
NOTE: There will be no leftovers of these leftovers!
Copyright: Friday, November 30, 2012, by Stessily.