Even though I normally talk of my Italian grandmother, Italian food and all things Italian that apply in my life, I never talk about the fact that I am half Irish as well. Both of my grandfathers are Irish where both of my grandmothers are Italian. Quite the combination, let me tell you. I believe I inherited more Irish traits than Italian (although the grandmothers may deny that just on principle): Loads of red in my hair and the quick-fire temper that fizzles as soon as it starts, to name just a couple. My daughter got the freckles like my red haired Papa. Small things, but they are important to me. I can't say I grew up on big Irish dinners but I do remember my maternal grandfather baking his mother's bread rolls, or Irish Buns as he called them. Lucky for me, I inherited that recipe from Papa, written in my great-grandmother's handwriting. While it isn't the most legible, it is one of my most treasured family recipes. My remaining grandpa promised to take me to Ireland one day, but he now unfortunately is too ill to travel. One day I will go and bring back stories and photos for him so he can armchair travel and dream.
This year I decided to honor the Irish in me by starting a new tradition to cook their foods more often. I started with Colcannon just in time for St. Patrick's day. While colcannon is traditionally made during Halloween, I figured not to many potato lovers as myself would turn it down at this time of year. I swapped the usual cabbage and added kale instead and added in some bacon and green onions instead of the leeks. I think this tradition is one that will stick around in our house.
4 large baking potatoes
3/4 to 1 cup half and half, warmed (depending on how creamy you want your potatoes)
3 tbsp butter
4 strips of bacon, cooked and cut into chunks
2 cups kale
3 green onions, sliced
salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot, boil the potatoes whole for 20 minutes or until soft but not mushy. Drain and let the potatoes sit in the covered pot until cool enough to handle. In a large saute pan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter and add the kale and cook until soft. Set aside. Peel the potatoes and cut them into large chunks and place them in a large bowl or the bowl of a mixer. Mix the potatoes until some are creamy but you still have chunks and slowly add in the half and half to get your desired texture. (I like mine pretty chunky, but do as you please). Stir in the cooked bacon chunks, your kale and the sliced green onion then salt and pepper to taste. Top with your remaining 2 tablespoons of butter on top (optional) and serve.