Colcannon is an Irish dish of boiled potatoes and cabbage or kale mashed together and flavored with onion, shallots, or leeks and cream or butter. Colcannon is strongly associated with Samhain, in which it was used for various forms of divination.

Linguistic evidence suggests that cabbages were known to the Iron Age Celts. The Romans believed cabbages to have several medicinal qualities. While cabbage was a food of the working classes in Medieval Europe, the other principal ingredient of colcannon, potatoes, were a New World food that arrived in the sixteenth century.

The word “colcannon” comes from the Gaelic “cal ceannann” (‘white headed cabbage’). Some hold that the ‘cannon’ part of the name might be derived from the old Irish ‘cainnenn’ (‘garlic, onion, or leek’, depending on the translation). This suggests that early forms of colcannon were simple mixtures of brassica and allium. The earliest Irish reference to colcannon is found in the Diary of Wiliam Bulkely, of Bryndda, near Amlwch in Anglesey, in 1735. Colcannon appeared in England in 1774. In England, colcannon became a favorite of the upper classes.

1 lb shredded white cabbage

1 lb potatoes peeled and quartered

2 leeks finely chopped (white part only)

1/4 cup milk

Salt and pepper to taste

pinch of ground nutmeg

3 tablespoons butter

Boil the cabbage in water until cooked; drain and keep warm. Place the potatoes and leeks together in a pot of water and boil until tender, about 15 to 20 min. Drain the potatoes and leeks and mash in a large pot with the milk and butter. Stir in the cabbage. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper.

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