Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday: Colcannon

First, how delicious does this sandwich I made for lunch look? Toast, BBQ sauce, turkey, cheddar, bacon, lettuce, tomato, toast. It was yummy.

Ok, dinner. While on vacation, I saw an episode of "Tyler Florence Cooks Food While You Debate His Douche Factor." It was fairly old, so I think his factor was still "not that bad." In any case, he went to Ireland, and made colcannon.  It looked like one of those dishes that's super simple, and uses simple ingredients to come up with something filling and delicious.  I briefly looked at his recipe, and then threw it away and decided to do my own take on it.

Step one: scoop probably two tablespoons of bacon grease into your dutch oven.
Step two: salt and pepper a poundish pork loin, and brown the sides.  You'll notice I cut my loin in two so it would fit better in the pan.  If I had any access to Irish bacon (back bacon, etc.), I would have used that instead.  This version is obviously going to be less salty, so you may need to correct that (I didn't that much, but for other reasons).
Step three: Dump in a bottle of cider, and cover, and let the pork loin braise for ~two hours.
This was the cider I used.  I'm not a big fan of it, but it's basically the only cider that's available here.  It's very dry, but has a good cider-y flavor that I was hoping would be imparted into the pork.
Step four: This is where you just have to stick with me. I poked at the pork at this point, and it was fully cooked, and reasonably tender.  Next I had to deal with the potatoes, and wanted to steam them instead of boiling. To do so, I dropped a ramekin into the pot, and then put my steamer on top of that.  This allowed the pork to continue to braise while the potatoes steamed.
I used this many potatoes.  Um...5 it looks like? They were big chunky Yukon gold ones, too. This is probably the important thing.  I wouldn't really do this with russets, but I'm picky like that.  I also dumped most of a second bottle of cider into the bottom, as I wasn't sure if I had enough liquid to steam the potatoes.  I turned up the heat a bit, and covered them, and let them cook for an hour.
Blammo. Steamed potatoes, all ready for mashing.  I think this is my new favorite way to make mashed potatoes, as steaming didn't soak the potatoes like boiling does.  This means that the final mash was sweet, like a nicely baked Yukon gold is.  This was a surprise, but was a large part of what made this dish work so well.  It also explains why I didn't add lots of salt, as I didn't want to cancel the sweetness.
Step five: Forget to take a useful picture, while you mash the potatoes, and remove the pork to the cutting board.  While doing this, add a salad spinner (mine is the smaller one) full of shredded cabbage to the cider left in the pan, and try to keep an eye on it to pull it when it turns bright green (or, ignore that sign because you're too busy mashing).  I used almost a cup of cream on the potatoes, along with a chunk of butter, and a few ladlefuls of cider from the pan.

You should also chop the pork at this point.  Mine shredded perfectly as I cut it, with the grain separating into smallish chunks as I sliced.
Step six: Realize your mixing bowl isn't going to be big enough, so drain the pan, dump the pork and potatoes back in, and strain out the cabbage from the cider.  Mix and mix, and fix the moisture with the cream and cider.  Add a bit of salt after tasting.
Step seven: Plate in a bowl.  Make a hole in the middle for a tablespoon or so of butter, and then top with green onions and add a slice of cheese (Red Leicester, I believe. As an afterthough, Cotswold would have been delicious with this).

This works out to be basically a big bowl of comfort food.  It'd really be better if it wasn't 80 degrees here, but if we had "cold autumn evenings," this would be a good thing to make.  I also have plenty of leftovers for the rest of the week, although reheating mashed potatoes is always a bit touchy.  I reserved some of the cider, and I have a bit of cream left.  I think the plan is to rehydrate it a bit, and then put it in my big ramekin and bake it in the oven with a foil cover.  We'll see how that goes.


  1. You could make croquettes out of them too. Also, you could use them as a meaty cover for shepherd's pie.

  2. My first thought was, "I'm not going to use this for shepherd's pie, because I'd have to make the stew." Then I remembered that I have like six quarts of frozen stew in my freezer. That makes it far more possible than I originally thought.

    Croquettes would be good too. In any case, even though this is tasty, it may seem less so after a week of leftovers, so having options is good.