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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Fried Colcannon Cakes with Leek Cream Sauce

I recently went to an Irish pub with my family, and while I enjoyed my salmon sandwich, I was a bit disappointed that they did not have colcannon on the menu. Irish cuisine isn't well known for its vegetarian dishes, but I love colcannon, a mixture of mashed potatoes, leafy greens, and onions.

So when my wife was having a potato craving a week later, I thought I'd right my personal wrong and make colcannon for dinner. But then I had another idea. What if I fried it? There are very few things in this world that you can make worse by frying. Topped with a garlicky leek cream sauce, they were delicious. Here is my recipe for fried colcannon cakes with leek cream sauce.

For the cakes:

4 large russet potatoes, about 3 pounds
1 large carrot, grated
1 bunch of kale, shredded
2 green onions, green and white parts minced
3 tbsp butter, softened
1/2 tsp salt
Black pepper
Olive oil for frying

For the sauce:

2 tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 leek, white and green parts minced
1 tbsp all purpose flour
1 cup milk

Directions:

Rinse the potatoes and pat dry, but not too dry. Poke several holes in the potatoes with a fork, and place the spuds on a microwavable plate. Cover with a paper towel. Microwave on high for 12-15 minutes, or until you can slice the potatoes in half without too much resistance. Let the potatoes cool as you make the sauce.

Microwaving the potatoes instead of boiling them both preserves vitamins and reduces the amount of water retained after cooking. This means you don't have to add flour to the cakes to hold their shape.

In a saucepan, melt the butter until it starts to bubble. Add the garlic and cook until it just starts to get some color. Add the leek and cook until softened. Add the flour, absorbing the rest of the butter. Cook, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds. Lower the heat to medium-low and add the milk, stirring or whisking until thickened. Add more milk if you want a thinner sauce, or let it reduce if you want a thicker one. Add salt and pepper to taste. Reduce the heat to warm and assemble the cakes.

Once cooled, peel the potatoes. You can do this fairly easily with your fingers or with a peeler. Mash into a large bowl with a masher or ricer. Add the carrot, kale, green onions, butter, salt, and a couple turns of pepper.

Coat the bottom of a frying pan with olive oil, perhaps 1/4 inch. With your hands, form the potato mixture into patties, squeezing out as much air as possible without making them too dense. Also, try to make them relatively flat so they fry up better. Fry until golden on one side, then flip. The patties will be somewhat fragile, so take care with the spatula, and leave plenty of room between the patties.

Serve the colcannon cakes with the sauce on top or on the side. Makes 4-6 cakes.