Colcannon & Champ

31 May 2011

“Did you ever eat Colcannon, made from lovely pickled cream?

With the greens and scallions mingled like a picture in a dream.

Did you ever make a hole on top to hold the melting flake

Of the creamy, flavoured butter that your mother used to make?


Yes you did, so you did, so did he and so did I.

And the more I think about it sure the nearer I’m to cry.

Oh, wasn’t it the happy days when troubles we had not,

And our mothers made Colcannon in the little skillet pot.”

(traditional Irish folk song)

The #IrishButcher cookbook shoot has finally wrapped, our crew are nestled back in their homes across the pond and my kitchen is doing deep pranayama breathing exercises I would bet.

Since I have been preparing only 100% meat dishes for nearly a month, I have now instinctively gone herbivore, so I decided to finally write that much-requested and long overdue blog post on two classic Irish potato preparations: Colcannon and Champ.

While potatoes are a must in our farming family, these lovely mash-ups are not the norm, but from time to time I will mix it up and serve Colcannon or my own special blend of mashed potatoes with a Sunday roast. Since we planted kale in the garden this spring, I am hoping to work it in a little more.

Colcannon and Champ are both traditional Irish mashed potato dishes; Colcannon was traditionally made from mashed potatoes and kale (or cabbage), butter, salt, and pepper. It is often eaten with boiled ham or Irish bacon. You can also add scallions, leeks or chives to Colcannon which = delicious too.

According to friend and fellow Irish food writer, Aoife (pronounced Ee-fa) of the very popular Daily Spud blog, Champ is native to Northern Ireland. Champ looks similar to Colcannon and is made by blending scallions or green onions with creamy mashed potatoes. Champ is great on its own, served steaming hot with extra butter, which will melt through it. But I’ve also heard {on more than one occasion} that Champ is the perfect side dish for good quality sausages.

When I sent a poll out on Twitter yesterday to see which dish people preferred, Colcannon swept it…but there were some definite affaires de cœur for both styles.

First, I pulled some hearty kale from the garden (one of the few vegetables that are still growing strong despite the harsh weather over the past few weeks!) and washed it up along with several spring onions.

Then I peeled the potatoes. I use roosters  (similar to red russets in the USA) for their floury texture and golden hue.

After the potatoes are boiled, strain them and put back into the empty, steaming hot pan and bang around for a bit. Then, using a masher like this mash em’ up. Melt a little butter and whole milk together and gradually mix in until you’ve achieved your version of “just right” consistency . After that, add in your coarsely chopped kale, cabbage (blanch kale or cabbage for 1-2 minutes), scallions, green onions or….one of my favorites: horseradish, fresh basil and lemon zest. Top off with a little salt and pepper and you’re sorted!

Slan Abhaile,


Photos and styling by Imen McDonnell

Top photo, left to right: Horseradish, Basil + Lemon Zest blend. Champ. Colcannon.

Bottom photo, top to bottom: Colcannon. Champ. Horseradish, Basil + Lemon Zest blend.




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