Colcannon, For Cajuns

A happy Saint Patrick’s Day to our Galley Pirates faithful!  On this augustly Irish occasion we bring you a distinctively Irish dish…but with a New Orleans twist; if there’s a party to be had, our fair City will make it her own.  In all honesty, it seems to me that “colcannon” is something every child has made at one time or another, when told they must finish their vegetables or get no dessert; you bury those disgusting peas in as much mashed potato as you can get and just avert your gaze while you concentrate on the creamy mashed potatoes going down.  At its essence: mashed potatoes with cabbage or other greens stirred in, and as many derivations as their are drunkards in Dublin…so what harm if Cajun country adds one of their own?

You see, New Orleans has a parade for just about everything — kid you not, when a new company got the city trash collection concession, they threw a raucous parade!  Saint Patricks Day is no exception, and given the well-accepted norm of drinking in the streets, the Crescent City has an advantage on this one.  The Saint Patrick’s Day parades are a lot like the Mardi Gras parades — marching bands, (marching groups of fellas handing out paper roses in exchange for a kiss), floats, etc.  Only the floats, in place of  beads and plushies, throw cabbage, potatoes, carrots, onions…a whole host of produce.  Your intrepid Pirate, attending her first such parade, decided to try and wrangle an advantage in getting these throws by donning her full chef’s regalia, in a town that RESPECTS their cooking.  It worked…herewith, my first caught-cabbage.  And back aboard, just HALF my haul:

Colcannon for a Cajun

10-12 red potatoes (10 cups, quartered)
1lb bacon
1 large yellow onion
1 small or 1/2 large head green cabbage
1 stick butter
1/2 cup broth, any type
1-1/2 to 2 cups half-and-half
Salt and pepper

Step one: go out and catch your ingredients.  Dress in costume, find a good spot on the neutral ground, raise your arms and holler “I NEED CABBAGE!”  When you catch a rider’s eye, really turn on the culinary charm and they might gently hand you the cabbage rather than chucking it at you.  Potatoes are probably going to get chucked…be ready.  And if you find a float throwing bacon, do let me know.

I don’t really have to tell you how to make mashed potatoes, do I?  Peel, if that’s your thing, and quarter (to bite-sized pieces) potatoes.  Cover with water in large pot and bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes or until soft when prodded with a knife point.

Slice the bacon into 1/2″ strips (this will be more easily done if you can get it nice and cold…put it against the cold plate in the ice box for 10 minutes or so), and thinly slice the onion and cabbage.

How thinly to slice your cabbage?  Depends on the kid you’re hiding it from.  Also — and this goes doubly for the potatoes– wash thoroughly, particularly if anything took a bounce before you caught it.

After draining the potatoes, throw the bacon into the same large pot and cook until done but not too crisp.  Set the bacon aside, leaving as much of the drippings behind as you can.

Do  be aware…the cooking of bacon will almost certainly get you an audience at the companionway.  This is Eddy’s best “throw me somethin’ Mister!” look.

To the bacon drippings, add half the stick of butter and saute the onion.  Add the cabbage and toss to coat.  Add a bit of salt, and the broth.  Let this simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until cabbage wilts–about 7-10 minutes.

Add the remaining butter and a cup-and-a-half of half-and-half (and half).  Bring this to a low boil and let the cabbage soften a bit further.  Stir in the potatoes and let mixture return to a boil.  Mash the potatoes in the pot with the cabbage and onions, adding a bit more half-and-half if needed to get things creamy.

This was when I remembered I had lost my potato masher in a recent marauding incident (it’s complicated) and had to bludgeon them into submission with a set of egg beaters wielded like Captain Hook’s prosthetic.  Only when they had succumbed could I use the egg beaters as designed to try and cut the lumps further.  Stir in the bacon, and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve to a happy crew on a cool, 15-knot day and watch them think they’ve scored the Luck o’ the Irish.

See you next year, O’Chere.

 

 

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