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Spud Sunday: Mushy Mushy

My non-stick pan, it transpires, is really nothing of the sort.

This I discovered today, when I used it to make a colcannon-inspired potato cake, fashioned from julienned potatoes and filled with a mix of cabbage and onion. The cake should have had a really rather appealing pattern of golden potato sticks top and bottom. Instead, having resolutely stuck to the not-so-non-stick pan, the result looked like mush. Very tasty mush, I might add, but mush nonetheless. Hmph.

I actually considered not posting about it. In the hotdog-eat-hotdog world of food porn, this dish didn’t exactly have those porn star good looks. But, as I surveyed the dinner plates that had all but been licked clean, I knew that what it lacked in the looks department, it more than made up for in the I-could-eat-a-mountain-of-this stakes. I mean, this was colcannon with crispy bits. I managed to dress what remained of the mush up for the cameras and got on with it.

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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, where I spent an evening last week learning to properly wield some of those fancy knives that I own.

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.

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


  1. kickpleat

    This is my kind of mush! Love it with both cabbages and leeks. Never tried frying it though, but it sounds just like the salmon/potato cakes my mom would make when I was little. Yum.

  2. OysterCulture

    This potato and cabbage dish looks ever so good. I’ve been eating a lot of that tasty combo and cannot wait to add this dish into the rotation. I have to ask, where’s the bacon? All the colcannon, I was served had bacon! =)

    I have a confession to make, I love the stickage – great for sample/nibbling – to me its a freebe.

  3. VeggieGirl

    Best looking and best sounding mush ever! :-D

  4. jenn

    Sometimes they don’t have to be pretty to taste real good. I’ll take this much over the nice dressed one any day.

  5. jenn

    Oops…meant mush. Typed too fast. hehe…

  6. game

    Nice dish.In my childhood I had tested it.Now i am going to prepare it myself.Well Thanx for providing a potato with cabbage dish.

  7. Sophie

    Now, that’s a wonderful & fab dish for me! I so love this!! Easy yet so tasty though!

  8. Jenni

    You are truly the queen of All Things Potato! And very brave for posting your less-attractive-than-George-Clooney mushy, mushy colcannon pie thingy. I think it sounds divine, and while Foodie Canon states that we eat with our eyes first, it really is the flavor/texture/aroma that’s the most important. Besides, if we all ate with our eyes first, nobody would ever have decided that snails were food. So there.

    You have inspired me: I shall be posting a less-attractive-than-Robert-Redford chili today! :)

  9. Natasha - 5 Star Foodie

    Sounds absolutely delicious, I can’t wait to try this specialty!

  10. gastroanthropologist

    Non-sticks sticking! Ugh. My non-stick all-clad (one of my most prized possessions) is use nearly every time I cook. It’s over five years old and has moved with with me nearly as many times. It is just beginning to show signs of non-stick sticking and I am utterly heartbroken.

    So, I had a mashed potato and kale cake similar to this the other day…it came on top of bacon (the meaty british sort) and a fried egg on top. It was so delicious, but I think the addition of your onion in the potato cake would put it over the top.

  11. The Duo Dishes

    Hotdog eat hotdog. Ha! Nothing wrong with something that may seem unphotogenic. If it tasted good, we can’t judge!

  12. Daily Spud

    kickpleat: yes, mush is good – reminds me of childhood things too!

    OysterCulture: good question on the bacon – if it’s not actually in the colcannon (and traditionally, it’s not), it’s definitely elsewhere on the same plate – bacon, spuds and cabbage is the quintessential Irish dinner

    VeggieGirl: my mush blushes :D

    jenn: absolutely, I’ve eaten some pretty tasty mushes in my time :)

    game: you’re welcome!

    Sophie: always nice to be reminded that a few simple ingredients can make for a very tasty meal

    Jenni: indeed, it was not the Clooney of Colcannons, but you have now gotten me thinking about what it would take to produce such a thing (a better non-stick pan, for a start!); meanwhile I look forward to meeting your chili, even if not Redford-like, it will be Jenni-like and I can never say no to that

    Natasha: simple but indeed tasty :)

    gastroanthropologist: I am drooling at the thought of an All Clad non-stick pan, especially now that I am back in the market for such a thing… I am also drooling at the thought of a fried egg to top that potato cake off, perfect

    Duo Dishes: indeed, looks sure aren’t everything in the food world – see Jenni’s snail comment above for starters :D

  13. SippitySup

    I think you are making a potato mountain out of a spud mole hill, because those taters look gorgeous!GREG

  14. Chef E

    Greg is wise, so listen :O)

    Also, the first line…might find its way into one of my poems, and how many times have I thought that very same thing, and on the whole post theme…

  15. Tangled Noodle

    I’ll take a plate of this, please! The browned, crispy bits look so good- porn star good, I dare say. The fact that this dish is described as both a ‘cake’ and a ‘sandwich’ makes it a complete meal for me!

  16. Daily Spud

    SippitySup: thank you Greg, a gent as always!

    Chef E: I will listen :) And I would be very happy if any of this found its way into one of your poems!

    Tangled Noodle: It’s an interesting idea – what are the top food porn indicators… I guess crispy brown bits would be right up there! And it is indeed a complete meal – the way I eat it anyhow :)

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