Colcannon (Irish Mashed Potatoes with Kale, Leeks and Ham)

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  Matt and I don’t have a specific Irish meal planned for this year but I’ve been saving a yummy Irish side dish from last year’s feast to share on the blog today.

Irish Colcannon

That’s Colcannon, or, as I like to think of it, Irish mashed potatoes with kale, leeks and ham.  Oh, and butter… lots of butter!  Last year this heaping plate of colcannon made the perfect side dish to the Beef and Guinness Pie that Matt and I ambitiously tried to make after work on a Monday (it took much longer to braise the beef than I anticipated!).  Luckily the colcannon came together very quickly so we were able to sneak bites of it while the pie baked.  Here’s a photo of my dinner plate from last year when we finally sat down to eat at 9PM:

Calcannon with Beef & Guinness Pie

YUM.  If you need a side dish for your St. Patrick’s Day dinner I would absolutely recommend colcannon.  And don’t be intimidated by the kale…  once it is steamed, chopped, and stirred into this creamy mixture of leeks, ham and potatoes you won’t even realize you’re eating super healthy leafy greens!

Irish Colcannon (Recipe from Nigel Slater at TheGuardian.com)

You will need…
2 lbs. Baking Potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 1/3 cup warm Milk (use whole milk for a creamer consistency)
4-5 tablespoons Butter
3/4 to 1 lb. Leeks, washed and chopped
4-5 handfuls of Kale leaves, washed, steamed, drained and chopped
3/4 to 1 lb. Cooked Thick-Cut Ham, chopped (we used a ham steak)
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Directions:
Place the potatoes in a large pot of water and bring to a boil.  Cover and boil for 20 minutes or until easily pierced by a fork.  Drain potatoes and return to pot.  Mash the potatoes with a potato masher until creamy, then add in the warm milk and butter and continue to mash until thoroughly mixed.  Fold in the chopped leeks, kale and ham and gently stir until combined.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve as part of a St. Patrick’s Day feast!

Colcannon

Are you making an Irish-themed dish for St. Patrick’s Day?  Maybe Bangers and Mash or Shepherd’s Pie?  Tell me about it in the comments! 🙂

Advertisements

Nürnberger Bratwurst with Sauerkraut

Happy October!  The German holiday of Oktoberfest may have ended on October 6th, but, like many Americans, Matt and I use this holiday as an excuse to enjoy German bratwurst and beer for the entire month of October.  Last night’s dinner was no exception…  We used a German recipe to make authentic Nürnberger Bratwurst with Sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, and crispy onion rings.  YUM!

Bratwurst and Sauerkraut

We purchased our Nürnberger (aka Nuremberg) Bratwursts from a fresh sausage vendor at our local Farmer’s Market.  The vendor explained that, unlike most brats you’ll find in a supermarket, Nürnberger Bratwursts are very small (about 4″ long x 3/4″ diameter) and are not served hot dog-style on a roll.  Instead, several of these tiny sausages are served together over a bed of warm sauerkraut.  This sounded good to us and, after some online searching, I found this authentic recipe to showcase these little brats.  Naturally the recipe was written in German but with a combination of my limited German language skills from school and some help from Google Translate we came up with the following English version.

Kartoffelpüree mit Bratwurst und Sauerkraut
Mashed Potatoes with Bratwurst and Sauerkraut  –  Translated from Lecker.de

You will need…
3 Yellow Onions
2 1/4 lbs. Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and roughly cut into 2×2″ chunks
200ml (approx. 7/8 cup) Skim Milk
40g (just under 3 tablespoons) Butter, divided in half
1/2 bunch Chives, sliced into very thin rounds
Grated Nutmeg
Peanut Oil
28 oz. Jar of Sauerkraut (available in the canned veggies aisle)
375ml (approx. 1.6 cups) Chicken Broth
5-6 Juniper Berries*
1 Bay Leaf
12-16 Nuremberg Sausages (Nürnberger Rostbratwurst)
1/4-1/2 cup Flour, for dredging
Salt and Ground Black Pepper, to taste

Bratwurst and Sauerkraut

Directions:
Slice the onions to form thin rings (as thin as you can make them without breaking the ring).  Set the onion rings aside and reserve the centers or any rings that break.  Dice the centers.  You should end up with approx. 1/3 diced onion and 2/3 onion rings.

Place the peeled potatoes in a pot with salted water, cover, and boil for 20 minutes until soft.  Drain the potatoes.  Place the milk and 20 g (half) of the butter in the potato pot and warm over low heat.  Return the potatoes to the pot, mash well, and add a few pinches of chives, ground nutmeg, and salt to taste.  Stir well and cover.

Meanwhile, in a large frying pan, saute the onions in peanut oil over medium high heat for 2-3 minutes.  Add the sauerkraut (spoon it out of the can to avoid getting excess juice) and saute for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently.  Then, stir in the broth, juniper berries, and bay leaf.  Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring once or twice.  Once cooked, transfer the sauerkraut mixture to a bowl and cover tightly to keep warm.

Use a paper towel to remove any remaining bits of sauerkraut from your frying pan, then return the pan to medium-high heat and heat a tablespoon of oil.  Add the bratwurst to the pan and cook in the oil until crispy brown on all sides, turning frequently (use a splatter screen to minimize the mess).  Transfer cooked bratwurst to a plate and cover tightly with foil.

Return the frying pan to medium-high heat and add in the remaining 20g butter.  Dredge the onion rings in flour and spread them in a single layer on the bottom of the pan – you’ll need to do this in batches.  Fry the onions in the butter until golden brown and crispy.  Transfer the cooked onions to a paper towel-lined plate and continue to fry the dredged onion rings in batches until they are all done.

Bratwurst und Sauerkraut
To serve your Kartoffelpüree mit Bratwurst und Sauerkraut, spoon generous helpings of mashed potatoes and sauerkraut onto a plate.  Place 3-4 bratwurst over top of the sauerkraut and garnish the potatoes with chives.  Stack the onion rings on top of the potatoes and serve with a nice cold German beer.  Enjoy!

*Juniper Berries are a common element in northern European cooking and in this recipe they are used to flavor the Sauerkraut.  We searched for Juniper Berries in six (SIX!) different grocery stores before finding them in our usual store, The Fresh Market.  (Too bad we didn’t try there first!)  If you can’t find Juniper Berries locally you can order them online at Spices, Inc.

Shepherd’s Pie (Fall Comfort Food)

The weather in southeastern PA is starting to cool off and that can only mean one thing… comfort food!  Don’t get me wrong, I love fresh summery pasta dishes and salads, but after a hot, humid August I am ready for Fall and all of the warm, hearty foods that come with it!

On Friday we kicked off our Fall food season with a delicious shepherd’s pie.*  We didn’t feel like grocery shopping after work so Matt searched around on the internet until he found a recipe on Food.com that used ingredients that we already had on hand.  The result was an all around solid dish.  It wasn’t amazingly gourmet and didn’t really have any “wow” factor, but it definitely satisfied my craving for a solid, comforting meal.  After all, how could you go wrong with ground beef covered in creamy, golden mashed potatoes?  🙂

*Shepherd’s pie is technically made with ground lamb, but we had ground beef so that’s what we used.  I think that a Shepherd’s Pie made with beef is called a Cottage Pie…?

Shepherd’s Pie (serves 6) (from Food.com)

You will need…
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
15-20 Baby Carrots, chopped into small discs (or use “real” carrots!)
1 Yellow Onion, diced
1 teaspoon ground Black Pepper
3-4 sprigs Fresh Thyme, chopped
1 lb. Ground Beef – we used 93% Lean
1 cup Frozen Peas
2 tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
3 tablespoons Butter, divided (or Butter Spread like Earth Balance)
1 glass Red Wine (we used a Pinot Noir)
2 tablespoons Tomato Paste
2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
1 cup Beef Stock (we only had chicken broth; would be better with beef stock!)
Salt and Pepper to taste
8-12 Small Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and cut in half
1/4 cup Fat Free Half & Half
1/2-3/4 cup Skim Milk
Grated Parmesan Cheese

Directions:
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the chopped carrots and saute for a few minutes until they start to become tender.  Add in the onions and saute for another 1-2 minutes, then add in the black pepper and thyme and stir well.  Add the ground beef and cook until browned, stirring occasionally.  Drain the beef if there is excess fat (there wasn’t with our 93% lean beef).

Add 1 tablespoon of the butter and the peas and stir.  Sprinkle with flour, stir, and then add in the wine, tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce and stir again.  Bring the mixture to a simmer, allow to reduce for a few minutes, and then add in the stock.  Simmer the mixture for several more minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture takes on a thick, meaty consistency.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

While you are waiting for the beef mixture to thicken, add the potatoes to a pot of boiling water and allow to boil for 10-12 minutes (or more, depending on the size of your potatoes) until fork-tender.  Drain the potatoes, return to the pot, add in the half & half, milk, and remaining 2 tablespoons butter and mash with a potato masher until creamy and smooth.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer the meat mixture into a 13 x 9 casserole pan and spoon the mashed potatoes over top.  Spread out the potatoes carefully to complete cover the meat.  If desired, sprinkle some Parmesan cheese over the top of the potatoes.  Cook the Shepherd’s Pie for 30 minutes in a preheated 400°F oven.  In the last 3-5 minutes of cooking switch the oven to broil and put the Shepherd’s Pie until the broiler to give the potatoes and nice golden crust… yum!

St. Patrick’s Day Dinner: Bangers and Mash

Last night for our St. Patty’s Day dinner we tried out a traditional Irish dish, Bangers and Mash.  Although I usually stereotype Irish food as being bland and low on flavor, this combination of pork sausage, gravy and mashed potatoes was incredible!  We’ll definitely be making this dish again!!  We adapted the recipe slightly from one that I found on AllRecipes.com.

Bangers and Mash  (serves 2-3)

You will need…
2 Large Baking Potatoes, peeled and quartered
1/4-1/2 stick Butter, divided
2 tablespoons Heavy Cream
Salt and Pepper, to taste
3 “Banger” Pork Sausages (some stores like The Fresh Market and Whole Foods actually sell bangers; if your store doesn’t have bangers specifically then normal pork sausage will be fine)
1/2 Small Yellow Onion, roughly diced
1/2 Packet of Dry Brown Gravy Mix

Directions:

Place the quartered potatoes in a pot and fill with water until they are just covered.  Boil for approx. 20 minutes, then strain the potatoes and return to the pot.  Mash the potatoes, add 2-3 tablespoons of the butter along with the heavy cream, salt, and pepper, and then continue to mash until creamy and smooth.

In a large pan (we used our wok), sauté the bangers in the remaining butter until they are cooked through. When cooked, remove the bangers from the pan and allow to cool. In the same pan, add the diced onions and fry until tender. Add the 1/2 packet of gravy mix and water as per the gravy mix instructions to the onion mixture and allow the mixture to thicken.

Meanwhile, slice the bangers into small, bite-sized pieces. Add the bangers to the thickened onion/gravy mixture and mix thoroughly.

Assemble your bangers and mash in a small casserole dish.  We used three individual-sized dishes but you could probably use one large, shallow dish as well.  Fill the bottom half of the dish with the sausage/onion mixture.  Spoon the mashed potatoes over top of the sausage until the casserole dish is full.  Bake the casseroles in a preheated 350° oven for 20 minutes, then move the oven rack to the top position and broil for approx. 5 minutes until top of potatoes is browned.

Enjoy your bangers and mash with a side vegetable and a tall glass of your favorite beer!

Bangers and Mash with Sautéd Pancetta and Asparagus