A few weeks ago many of us were tilting back the Guinness and feasting on brisket and cabbage during St. Patrick’s Day, but Chef John over at foodwishes.com was cooking up his own favorite recipe. I had never seen colcannon prepared before, but I enjoyed this recipe video he posted back then in March, and you might want to check it out too. If you aren’t familiar with colcannon, it’s simply mashed potatoes combined with a combination of green stuff which may include cabbage, kale, onions, and/or leeks. Chef John finishes it with with a big dollop of butter and a sprinkling of green onions, kinda making it mashed potato’s cool Irish brother.
Fast forward to this week, and I’ve been making a lot of spinach and garlic. I enjoy cooking it in big batches and taking my time so it’s not a rushed thing. There’s a nice zen calm as I go through the steps – washing and chopping the leaves, using my mandolin to thinly slice the garlic, the low sizzle of the slow saute, then watching the gentle way spinach wilts down into almost nothing.
By making a big batch I can freeze half of the spinach and garlic, then find inspiration to use up the rest in lots of different ways. It goes so well in just about everything, but I love it as a simple side dish next to some roasted chicken. Throwing a handful into an omelet with some roasted red peppers can make morning breakfast a lot more colorful. It plays well as the finishing ingredient in soups, or it can give grilled chicken sausage a savory boost piled up as a topping.
These twice baked colcannon potatoes are really just a good, simple way to use up all that tasty sauteed spinach and garlic, but after you bite into one of these beauties you may think mashed potato’s cool Irish brother should hang around more often.
Basic Spinach & Garlic
- 10 garlic cloves, peeled
- olive oil
- kosher salt
- 1/2 medium sweet onion, finely minced
- 3 large bunches fresh spinach, stems & leaves chopped into 3/4 inch pieces
Using a mandolin or v-slicer, thinly slice the garlic directly into a cold non-stick pan. Add 2 teaspoons of oil and a pinch of kosher salt, then adjust the heat to medium high. When the garlic sizzles, bring the heat down to low. The sizzling should be very soft, like a little whisper you have to strain to hear. Cook this for 3 minutes. Stir in the minced onion, along with another 2 teaspoons of oil and another pinch of salt. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. You’re looking for translucent and soft enough that you could easily use flat wooden spoon to smash it. Remove from heat and reserve.
To a large wide pot over medium high heat add the spinach with another tablespoon of oil and a heavy pinch of salt. Cook for 8 minutes, stirring constantly (I like to use silicone coated tongs for this). The spinach will wilt and squeezes out liquid. Add the garlic and onions, then continue cooking another 3 minutes, or until the spinach stems are soft. Remove from heat then cool well before refrigerating or freezing.
Twice Baked Colcannon Potatoes
- 1 large russet potato, well scrubbed
- 1 tsp olive oil
- seasoned salt
- 3/4 cup prepared spinach and garlic
- 1 Tbs butter
- 1/4 cup cheese (you could use swiss, cheddar, or whatever you like, but I used pepper jack)
- 1 Tbs sour cream
- 1 green onion, chopped fine
Place a small tray in the center of your bottom oven rack, then preheat to 400 degrees. Poke the potato 12 times with the tines of a fork, then rub the skin with the olive oil sprinkle with seasoned salt. Place it directly on your oven rack, above the small tray to catch any drips. Bake for one hour, or until a knife easily pierces the center. Cool for about ten minutes, or until you can handle the potato easily.
Cut the potato lengthwise, and scoop the insides into a large bowl. Add the butter with the spinach and garlic mixture, then mash well with a fork. Scoop this back into the potato skins, then sprinkle on another dash of seasoned salt. Return the potatoes to the small tray used earlier. Bake again at 400 degrees for about 10-20 minutes, or until heated through.
Add the cheese in an even layer, then broil until golden and bubbling, about two minutes.
Top with the sour cream and green onions.