Huw Thornton’s Colcannon
Makes 8 servings
3 pounds butterball or Yukon Gold potatoes
1 large yellow onion
1/2 a medium head of green cabbage, cored
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter
4 to 5 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil
1/2 a small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
Add the potatoes to a large pot two-thirds full of well-salted water set over medium-high heat.
Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to keep the water at a slow simmer. Cook until knife-tender.
Drain, spread gently on a baking sheet or platter, and cool. You could do this the day before.
While the potatoes are cooking, medium-dice the onion.
Cut the cabbage into 3/4-inch-thick slices.
Melt a stick of butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Sweat the onions with a large
pinch of salt.
Cook the onions till they’re sweet, soft, and pretty much translucent but not browned.
Fold in the sliced cabbage. When it just starts to wilt, kill the heat. You want it to retain a
Meanwhile, when the potatoes are cool, cut them in half.
Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat, add a few tablespoons of the oil, then
the halved potatoes. Make sure they’re in a single layer, position them so that the sliced side
is down, and don’t crowd the pan—you want them to sear, not steam. When you put them in
the pan and hear that medium pop, that’s a good sound. Once they’re like that don’t touch
them, just let them sear so a nice caramelized crust forms. You’ll need to do this in a couple
Return the cabbage mixture, still in its large sauté pan, over low heat, and add all the browned
potatoes. Using the flat side of a large meat tenderizer or a masher, roughly smash up the
potatoes in the pan, barbarian style—they should be evenly broken up but still pretty chunky.
Cut the remaining stick of butter into four or five slices. Add the slices to the pan one by one,
folding them in with a spatula or wooden spoon so they just melt into the mixture—this is the
final stage before crisping and serving the Colcannon. Turn off the heat and fold in the chopped
parsley. Taste for salt. (Potatoes are really weird: You can salt the hell out of your cooking water,
but there’s something to do with their makeup, the way they absorb flavors. You really have to
taste and keep salting till they’re right.)
At this point you can fry the Colcannon right away, or cool and refrigerate up to three days until
ready for the final browning. This makes a large amount, so depending on how many people
you’re feeding, you can serve it all at once or set some of the mix aside.
To finish, heat a cast-iron pan over medium-low heat with 2to 3 tablespoons of oil. When hot,
add your desired portion of potato mix and flatten with a kitchen spoon or metal spatula, like a
hefty potato pancake, about 3/4 inch thick. You want this to be super rustic. Cook slowly, until
the potatoes are well crisped and golden on the bottom—don’t be too aggressive or the onions
will burn. It’s all about the gentle sizzle and taking your time. Keep checking the progress,
noticing the growing smell of caramelizing buttery things.
Carefully flip and crisp the other side (if the cake breaks up, no worries; just pat it back into
shape with the spatula). Remove with the spatula or flip onto a warmed serving plate and enjoy.