Colcannon was traditionally eaten at Halloween in Ireland where trying to foretell the future is a crucial part of the Celtic New Year tradition. Fortune-telling charms such as a gold ring, coin, or thimble were wrapped in cheesecloth or parchment paper and hidden in the dish. The gold ring represents marriage, the coin - wealth, and the thimble - poverty. It's a clever way to get children to eat kale by blending it with floury, buttery mashed potatoes. It does seem a little dangerous, but I never remember anyone choking on a charm.
The secret to mashed potatoes is to put the cooked and drained potatoes back on a low heat to dry them out before mashing. Trust me, I'm Irish and I understand how to cook potatoes.
Cabbage can be substituted for kale if you prefer. —Phillippa Cannon
chopped kale, washed and stems removed.
large russet potatoes. Peeled, washed and cut into quarters
leeks, outer leaves removed, washed and finely chopped
1.Remove the kale leaves from the tough stems. Wash and chop. Cook for a few minutes in boiling salted water until the leaves soften. Drain and set aside.
2.Peel and wash the potatoes. Cut them into evenly sized quarters and put them in a saucepan. Just cover with cold, salted water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then turn heat down, cover saucepan and simmer about ten minutes until the potatoes are soft when pierced with a fork but not mushy. Take saucepan off the heat. Drain the potatoes. Place them back in the saucepan. Cover the potatoes with a clean cotton dishtowel and cover saucepan. Place the saucepan over a very low heat for five minutes to dry the potatoes. Remove saucepan from heat.
3.While the drained potatoes are drying over the low heat, place the chopped leeks and milk or cream in a small saucepan. Heat the milk, cook over a low heat for a few minutes to soften the leeks. Do not let the milk boil.
4.Add the butter to the potatoes. Gradually add the milk and leek mixture (you may not need all of it) when mashing the potatoes.
5.Blend in the cooked, chopped kale.
6.The dish can be prepared in advance and kept warm, covered in the oven until ready to serve.