21 December 2006

what's cooking: beef stew & colcannon

He Who Cooks made this last week - and it was fantastic! Just right for when the weather (finally) got a bit crisper. The broth from the beef stew was "gravy" for the colcannon, but it was best with a bit of everything on the fork! I yielded -- I'm normally a sequential eater [notice the careful placement of colcannon to the side of the plate? HWC put his on the bottom, a clear sign of a mixed eater].

I have to find out from HWC which book the stew recipe came from, but the colcannon is from The Gourmet Cookbook, which I recommend checking out from the library or buying outright. It's a comprehensive, but not full of standards and basics. I checked it out from the public library during my holiday after college graduation and typed up all the recipes I liked. I know, OCD. But look at the results!

I love colcannon and pretty much every variation on mashed potatoes. This is great if you've got veggi-phobic kids or picky eaters. Cabbage is a fantastic nutritional addition: in this colcannon, it packs in 50% of an adult's vitamin C for the day. And, because it's cooked in the milk and won't be drained, the nutrients aren't thrown out with the cooking water. The cabbagy smell and taste are reduced because of mixing with mashed potatoes, so if pungent scents are off-putting, this is also a good option - doubly so if you add in some beef stew!

Colcannon (Mashed Potatoes with Cabbage), from The Gourmet Cookbook
Serves 4 to 6

2 lbs russet potatoes
1 c whole milk
8 tbs unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
1 lb green cabbage, cored and coarsely chopped (about 4 cups)
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Peel potatoes and cut into 2-inch pieces. Combine with cold salted water (1 tablespoon salt for every 4 quarts water) to cover by 1 inch in a 5-quart pot, bring to a simmer, and simmer, uncovered, until tender, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine milk, butter, cabbage, salt, and pepper in a 3-quart heavy saucepan, bring to a bare simmer, and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until cabbage is tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

Drain potatoes well, then add to cabbage mixture and mash with a potato masher and fork until well combined. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.


To make champ, substitute 2 cups chopped scallion greens for the cabbage. Add to the3-quart saucepan and proceed as directed.

Additional variation: Substitute 1½ lbs leeks for cabbage. Cut off the dark green tops and trim the root ends, then halve the leeks lengthwise and chop. Wash well in a bowl of cold water, then lift out and drain. Add to the pan in place of cabbage and proceed as directed.