Fresh kale with its vivid green shoots is a luxury at this time of year. This is a traditional Irish way of dealing with it and often eaten at Hallowe’en with the inclusion of a gold ring, a thimble, a button and a sixpence. The Oxford English Dictionary has claimed that the word derives from ‘cole’ meaning cabbage and ‘cannon’ referring to the pounding of the mixture with a cannon ball. This would seem to arise out of the usual Anglo-Irish misunderstandings and it is more likely that the word comes from cal ceann fhionn – white-headed cabbage. In his History and Social Influence of the Potato, Redcliffe Salaman writes that in the seventeenth century ‘Colcannon … was much favoured and found its way to the tables of the upper classes in England. It was composed of a mash of potatoes and brussel sprouts, highly flavoured with ginger and the like …’ It sounds about as authentic as Swiss Roll.
Drain and purée the potatoes. Meanwhile have your kale cooking – either steamed or boiled.
Add the scallions to the milk or cream and bring to the boil, at which point add to the potatoes, beating well until a smooth mixture is attained. Finely chop the kale and add this, together with the butter. Season well. If necessary reheat. Serve with more butter.
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