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  • Bettina Applewhite

Calcannon with a Kale Twist

You may be wondering what is calcannon. It's an Irish dish of mashed potatoes mixed with cabbage. I put my own twist on it because I add in both cabbage and kale. Because who doesn't love kale? When you can fit in more vegetables and more dark green leafy vegetables, why wouldn't you?

Calcannon usually comes out to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. It's a traditional Irish side dish of mashed potatoes and cabbage. To keep with the traditions I let my potatoes be the foundation for bangers and mash. Bangers = fancy word for sausage.

When I first thought of mixing together cabbage and mashed potatoes I was skeptical. I go back and forth between being the person who doesn't want their food to touch on the plate and mixing everything together so I can have a perfect bite. I know it's strange. It's all according to the day of how I feel like eating my food.

There was a time where I was actually an immigrant in Tanzania. I stayed over there for a few months during an internship which was an amazing experience. The food that was provided to us was so repetitive. Most meals were fried chicken (but without the crispy flour coating), sauteed cabbage, and rice. The group I traveled with got really good at dressing up this meal by using condiments and seasonings.

One day we went on a field trip to hike some mountain. It was a steep mile up and down. At the end of this wonderful hike, we were rewarded with the usual meal of chicken, rice, and cabbage. I was so hungry after this workout that I was actually excited to eat, even this meal. I shredded the chicken and mixed everything together just the way I wanted it. I topped it with lots of hot sauce and took 2 or 3 bites. Then it dawned on me that I needed some hot tea to go with my perfect meal. (Now I eat slowly but anyone who has ever eaten with me knows this so whatever.) I stop eating to fix my tea because I'm too impatient to wait on one of the servers to come around and help me. When I come back to my seat, my plate is gone! Where did my plate go? The servers came around and threw it away because I wasn't there. The whole group at my table let them throw it away! Talk about being disappointed!! And hungry! Why would they throw all that food away? Why would my so called "friends" let them take the plate? They know I eat slow. Come on! And no, they didn't have any more food to give me so I was just hangry the rest of the day.

Anyway, back to the task at hand. Mashed potatoes and cabbage and kale mixed together makes a delicious side dish. When I was testing out this dish, I couldn't find my potato ricer or masher and was starting to panic on the inside. One of the taste testers suggested that I use the stand mixer and everything came out perfectly. And I was able to save a little energy and walk away while the potatoes were mashing to a creamy consistency. Thanks Rene'!

Kale and Cabbage Calconnon

Serves 4

1 lb, about 3 - 4 potatoes, peeled and cut in half

3 whole cloves garlic

1 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/4 head of cabbage, thinly sliced

1 bunch fresh kale, chopped, stems removed

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup heavy cream, additional if needed

2 Tbsp unsalted butter

Salt and Pepper, to taste


1. Place potatoes in a medium-sized stock pot. Smash garlic cloves with the back of a knife to break open the garlic cloves. Place smashed garlic in pot with potatoes. Add enough water to the pot to cover the potatoes. Add in 1 tsp salt. Bring to a boil. Cook until potatoes are fork tender.

2. While potatoes are cooking, heat chopped kale and cabbage. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to a medium skillet. Heat olive oil and add kale. Cook until wilted, about 4 - 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Then add cabbage to skillet and continue cooking until both cabbage and kale are soft. Season with garlic powder and salt and pepper, to taste.

3. Once potatoes are finished cooking, drain water. Mash potatoes until desired consistency. Mash in milk, heavy cream, and butter. Add in additional cream if needed, 1 Tbsp at a time, until you reach desired consistency.

4. Fold in cabbage and kale until evenly distributed. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.


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