Sweet Potato Colcannon

Thursday, March 15, 2012


In 1922, my great-great grandmother and her three teenage daughters(one of which was my great grandmother) immigrated from Ireland to the United States.  Once arriving at Ellis Island, they each went through a physical examination to make sure they were healthy before entering the country.  My one grandaunt, who walked with a limp, was denied entry and had to immediately return to Ireland(can you imagine how awful that would be?!).  The rest of the family settled in beautiful Philadelphia and had big families and lived long lives.*

One of the few items my great-great grandmother brought from Ireland to the United States was a lovely crystal bowl, of which I am now the proud owner(remember what I said about clinging to family heirlooms?).  It lives in my kitchen and occasionally makes special guest appearances, like when I need a pretty bowl to hold my ruffly kale and sweet potatoes(hint- look below).

For my last Irish recipe this week, I wanted to share with you a variation I often make of the classic colcannon dish.  Although mashed potatoes and kale do taste delicious together, I'm not a huge potato fan.   Don't get me wrong, potatoes will always have a special place in my heart and I do eat them on occasion.  But, on a day to day basis, I prefer sweet potatoes over the starchy tuber.  Also, on a day to day basis, I don't have the time to make mashed potatoes.  So I make this instead.  Like I said, it's a variation.
  

Sweet Potato Colcannon
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2"-3/4" chunks
2 tbsp water
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp olive oil
2 large leaves of kale, washed and cut into strips, with stems removed
1/4 cup of sliced shallots
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
sea salt

Preheat oven to 400.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium sized bowl, toss sweet potato with water, or until lightly damp.  Add cinnamon and toss until evenly coated.  Spread on prepared baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork, flipping pieces after 15 minutes.

In a cast iron skillet over medium heat, combine olive oil, garlic, and shallots, and saute until lightly browned.  Add kale, lightly salt, and continue to saute until kale wilts but still retains its bright color.  Remove from heat.

Once sweet potatoes are done, place in a large bowl.  Using a fork or utensil of choice, mash the sweet potatoes to your liking.  Mix in the kale saute.  Serve immediately.  Enjoy!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

*Note about my great grand aunt- I received a few questions regarding what happened to my great grand aunt, Mary, after she returned to Ireland.  Mary returned to the family farm which was sold to their cousins shortly thereafter.  The cousins took care of Mary, who could not read or write.  She kept busy knitting and crocheting, and died in the 1950's.  My great-great grandmother and great grandmother never saw Mary again, but did correspond with her through letters they sent monthly.

26 comments:

  1. Ah yeah! I'm not a huge potato fan either (how un Irish but hey) much preferring sweet potatoes as well. Last year I made colcannon with regular and sweet potatoes, though, to round out the colors of the Irish flag!

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    1. that is SUCH a great idea to make colcannon with both types of potatoes to make the irish flag! how creative of you!

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  2. Great post! :) I cannot believe your great-aunt had to return to Ireland and leave her whole family behind. Incredible story. My great-grand father immigrated from Ireland to Canada in the early 1900s. I don't know much about him, however, as he died when my granny was only 3 months old. I'd love to see Ireland one day. I've visited all my relatives on my dad's side in Wales. Now to visit my Irish and Scottish roots on my mom's side :)

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    1. i know, i still can't imagine having to go back to ireland alone, and having the rest of my family stay here. they were different people back then. no nonsense.

      i very much want to visit ireland, too. i'm secretly hoping my dad pays for me to go there with him ;)

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  3. I may not be a huge sweet potato fan, but I sure think they look beautiful!

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  4. That's such a sad story about your grandaunt!! Do you know what happened to her? I can't imagine re-starting my life over in a place that I'd tried to leave with no home left and without all of my family. Were they able to stay in contact with her? Did your family ever see her again?

    I like the idea of putting sweet potato and kale together. Good thinking!

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    1. you know, i don't know very much besides what i wrote above. i will try to get more information. i appreciate how much you care! thank you!

      and thank you!

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  5. wow,what a story.. that must have been heartbreaking. I have the same questions as Cadry.

    noo. u cannot not be a potato fan. i cant imagine a like without potatoes in my indian dishes! i dont like sweet potatoes much.:) love the bright kale. I dint even know what colcannon was till 2 days back when i started seeing the cabbage versions. i like this one better with kale! Thank you for all the love!

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    1. you deserve the love, richa! you are an amazing woman!

      i prefer kale since i love it so much, but braised cabbage is quite amazing. especially with some mashed potatoes of any variety!

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  6. I'm sorry to hear about your grandaunt. It really must have been an awful feeling. :(

    The bowl looks lovely though. So does the sweet potato colcannon. I've never heard of it before, but it looks yummy!

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    1. thank you, lisa marie <3 it is yummy!

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  7. Wonderful personal story, thanks for sharing. I've never tried colcannon before but I'm very intrigued now especially because I love sweet potatoes too. Anyway, Happy St. Patrick's Day!

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    1. thanks, richgail! happy st patrick's day!

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  8. Oh that makes me so hungry!!!!!! Thanks!

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  9. I love sweet potatoes and this looks amazing!

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  10. I have never tried this type of dish before. looks like something I'd enjoy. Thanks for sharing.

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  11. Your heritage is incredible, Caitlin. I love reading about your family--it is so amazing!!

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    1. thank you, cara! it's crazy how different people lived less than 100 years ago!

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  12. It has been so much fun learning about your family history Caitlin!

    I would take sweet potatoes over regular potatoes anyday - this looks so Yummy!

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    1. i'm glad you enjoyed my little stories ;)

      go sweet potatoes!

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  13. Man, I'm really kicking myself for only allowing 1 day a week to catch up on blogs - these would have been PERFECT for St. Paddy's day! They'll also be perfect tonight with a little quinoa on the side ;) LOVE!

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    1. quinoa on the side sounds PERFECT. in fact, that's the way i've been enjoying it ;)

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