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Spud Sunday: Mushy Mushy

Colcannon Cake with Potatoes, Cabbage & Onion

Colcannon Cake

This is based on a recipe for Straw Potato Cake with Braised Leeks from the Dublin Cookery School [1], where I spent an evening last week learning to properly wield some of those fancy knives that I own [2].

The original cake is basically a fried sandwich of julienned potatoes with a filling of leeks. Instead of leeks though, I thought colcannon – mash shot through with cabbage and onion – and used that combination instead. As you will have gathered, the use of a non-stick pan is rather critical if you want to end up with a nicely formed cake, but, there again, a bit of stickage is not a complete disaster either.

The recipe uses clarified butter for frying, which has less of a tendency to burn and should also help to minimise the possibility of sticking (though not in my case, clearly). For the low-down on clarified butter, scroll to the end of this post [3].

You’ll need:
  • approx. 800-900g potatoes (around 4 medium-sized specimens)
  • 200g savoy cabbage (about half of a small head)
  • 100g onion (1 small-ish onion)
  • 2 tblsps finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • approx. 4 tblsps clarified butter for frying
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
You’ll also need:
  • One 24cm heavy non-stick pan, about 5cm deep, plus a flat plate, a little wider than the pan, so that you can turn the pan (with the potato cake in it) onto the plate
The Steps:
  • Wash and peel the potatoes. Cut into fine slices (around 5mm thick), then stack the slices a few at a time and cut into matchsticks / julienne. Rinse in several changes of water then pat very dry using a tea towel.
  • Remove the core and any tough outer leaves from the cabbage. Wash the leaves, pat dry and chop into very fine ribbons.
  • Chop the onion into fine half-rings.
  • Place your pan over a medium heat. When hot, add about 1 tblsp of clarified butter. When that has melted, add the onion. Stir and fry until starting to soften but not brown – around 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the cabbage to the pan, stirring to combine with the onion. Season with a good pinch of salt and black pepper, stir and fry for a minute or two, then lower the heat, cover and cook until well softened – around 10-15 minutes. Stir in the chopped parsley and remove from the pan to a separate bowl.
  • Wipe your pan clean and return to a medium-high heat. Add about 1.5 tblsps of clarified butter. When the butter is bubbling, add about half of the potatoes. Season with some salt and black pepper. Layer the cabbage on the potatoes, leaving a margin of about 2-3 cm around the edge. Top with the remaining potatoes and again season with some salt and black pepper.
  • Lower the heat to medium, cover and cook for around 10 minutes or until the base is well-browned – you’ll need to lift up the edge of the potato cake slightly to see if it’s browning. While the potato cake is cooking, shake the pan frequently to prevent sticking and remove the lid periodically to wipe off condensation (so that the potatoes don’t steam, rather than fry).
  • Remove from the heat, place your plate over the pan and turn the potato cake onto the plate. If you’re lucky, nothing will have stuck to the base of the pan and you’ll have a nice pattern of potato sticks on top. If not, you’ll have to scrape any remains off the pan. It’ll still taste good, though.
  • Wipe down the pan, return to the heat and add another 1.5 tblsps of clarified butter. When bubbling, slide the potato cake back into the pan. Cook as before for about another 10 minutes or until the underside is browned. Using your plate again, turn the potato cake out of the pan, slice and serve, either with a hunk of boiled bacon or all on its own.
The Variations:
  • There are lots of things that you could add to the cabbage filling: garlic, caraway, maybe some pancetta; or you could replace the cabbage filling entirely with leeks softened in butter or maybe caramelised onions plus some goats cheese.
The Results:
  • Side-dish servings for around 4 people or probably feeds 2-3 on its own