I read a lot about food.
My meanderings through the cuisines of various cultures isn’t simply a cursory view. A dish has history. For example, when most people think of a country a specific dish usually comes to mind: Italy has pasta, Japan has sushi, Germany has sausage and Ireland has potatoes.
Ireland lived centuries without their now iconic staple. Discovery across the New World through the Age of Exploration brought new products that Europeans never saw before. This was where Ireland was introduced to the South American potato. Its ease of cultivation in Ireland’s sometimes harsh soil conditions allowed it to proliferate there.
The potato began to find its way into several dishes: Irish stew, potato pancakes and the cabbage/onion-infused colcannon. Colcannon is oftentimes seen as a side to many North Americans, but it can also find itself as a cold salad during tea time.
When I found that colcannon was also a salad, I decided to put it through my cultural twist. When I see cabbage, I want to caramelize it like I do in Hungarian kaposztas teszta, a caramelized cabbage noodle dish. Its sweetness heightens the savoury notes in potatoes and adds another dimension to an already wonderful Irish recipe.
Caramelized Cabbage Colcannon
For the Caramelized Cabbage:
1 tsp cold pressed canola oil
1 cup finely grated green cabbage
1/2 tsp salt
In a small pot over medium high heat, add the oil, shredded cabbage and salt. Stir occasionally and as the edges start to lightly brown, turn the heat down to medium. Keep stirring occasionally and if the cabbage starts to brown too quickly, add a splash of water (a teaspoon or so will do) and stir more. As the cabbage starts to lightly brown, reduce the heat to medium low and stir for a further 7-10 minutes or until a deep golden colour is achieved (the entire process should take about 20-25 minutes). Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
For the salad:
1 cup new potatoes, cubed into rough 2cm/1″ chunks
1 cup turnips, peeled and cubed into rough 2cm/1″ chunks
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup finely chopped spring onions
Boil the potatoes and turnips in plenty of salted water until tender (about 10-12 minutes). Drain and leave in the pot it was cooked in. Mash the potatoes and turnips with a fork roughly leaving larger chunks intact. Add the sour cream and spring onions and mash together more until it is all uniformly combined. Gently fold in the Caramelized Cabbage making a marbling effect. If you over stir the cabbage into the potato mixture, it will make the whole mixture a pale brown instead of a beautiful alternating effect. Serves 2-3.