Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Hot Potato.

There are a lot of cultures out there that seem to have a terrible reputation when it comes to bad, bland food. The British, the Irish, the southern half of Central America, Canada, Utah, the middle part of Africa, most of the former U.S.S.R., Australia, Hawaii, etc... I call bullshit. Every single culture has something delicious to offer. Just because you travel somewhere and have a bad meal doesn't mean that the whole country can't cook. Perhaps your Americanized palate just can't deal with jellied squid faces or petrified snake hearts. Truthfully I don't have an appreciation for most things squirmy or wiggly. Not my thing.

When you're a tourist, do some serious research on where to eat. Otherwise you'll probably wind up at a shitty restaurant eating bland or squishy things you don't like. There are things to love about all of the cuisines mentioned above. Shepherd's Pie, Corned Beef and Cabbage, Carimañola, Poutine, Funeral Potatoes, Muamba de Galinha, Borscht, Aussie Meat Pies, Spam Musubi, etc... all deliciousness. Be adventurous and try new things. If you travel somewhere and come back with the blanket statement "the food in that country/state/city/town sucks", you are an unimaginative pessimistic bore. Really, the two restaurants you ate at out of the thousands of other restaurants gave you a solid grasp of a whole culture's cuisine? Wow, you are like a god. All knowing and powerful. Shut the front door! Anyways, enough of my middle finger pointing. On to the tasty!

I'm a sucker for Irish food. I love the stuff. I love cabbage. I die for meat in pie form. Potatoes are my second favorite starch next to rice (Hey I'm Cuban, beans and rice are in my blood). I married into being Irish and I've done my best to represent. I make a mean Corned Beef and Cabbage, a seriously tasty Irish Fry, and one damn fine Black Velvet. One of my favorite Irish dishes is the simple but oh so satisfying Colcannon. Mashed potatoes with kale, scallions, ham, and butter. Sometimes made without scallions, sometimes without ham but pretty much always potatoes, kale, and butter. It's perfect on it's own or you can pair it with some roasted rack of lamb for a deluxe fancy meal. Go ahead, try it. I dare you to make this and still say that Irish food is boring. I triple dare you.

Colcannon (Mashed Potatoes with Kale, Scallions, Ham, and Butter)
2 1/2 lbs. russet potatoes (about 4-5 potatoes), peeled and quartered
1/2 lb cooked ham, diced
1 bunch of kale (3 cups chopped), washed, stems removed, thinly chopped
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup of sour cream
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 stick (8 Tbsp) unsalted butter
kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper

In a large pot of water pot add 3 Tbsp of salt and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes and boil until the potatoes are fork tender (about 18 minutes). Drain in a colander.
Return the pot to the stove and set over medium-high heat. Add 1 Tbsp butter and add the kale. Cook the greens for about 3 minutes or until tender. Add the scallions and cook for another minute.
Reduce the heat to low. Add the potatoes back to the pot. Pour in the cream, sour cream, and 3 Tbsp butter. Using a fork or potato masher and mash the potatoes, mixing them up with the greens. Mix in the ham. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with a pat of butter on top. Enjoy. xoxo

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