Celtic Spuds


Ireland and Scotland both produce some of my favourite mashed potato recipes. Having spent last week in Dublin and since I am writing this in Glasgow, it seemed a nice idea to share some of them. All of them are solid fare and have oodles of butter and even cream. One can always reduce the quantities of either in the interests of gastronomic virtue, I suppose!


This is a speciality from Ulster and it hardly needs a formal recipe.
First make some creamy mashed potatoes or use some that are left over. Chop a bunch of spring onions (scallions) into thin slices and mix them with the mash. Make sure that there is plenty of butter in the whole dish. It is terrific with hearty meats and sausages. One can substitute leeks or nettles for the scallions.

Colcannon is a similar dish but uses shredded cooked kale or cabbage instead of or in addition to the scallions. It is also usual to add cream (lots!) to the mixture.
There is even a traditional song about it called the Skillet Pot:

Did you ever eat Colcannon, made from lovely pickled cream?
With the greens and scallions mingled like a picture in a dream.
Did you ever make a hole on top to hold the melting flake
Of the creamy, flavoured butter that your mother used to make?

     The chorus:
Yes you did, so you did, so did he and so did I.
And the more I think about it sure the nearer I’m to cry.
Oh, wasn’t it the happy days when troubles we had not,
And our mothers made Colcannon in the little skillet pot.

This is a dish from the Orkney Islands off the north coast of Scotland. It is a traditional accompaniment to haggis but it goes well with almost about anything:
500g/1lb 2oz floury potatoes, such as Maris Piper or King Edward, peeled, chopped
500g/1lb 2oz swede (yellow turnip, rutabega), peeled, chopped
50g/2oz butter
75ml/2¾fl oz double cream
sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
1 tbsp chopped fresh chives

You can also use caramellised onions finely chopped instead of scallions.



I particularly love these on for breakfast on a cold winter morning in Scotland. They are easy to buy in the supermarket but not hard to make either.

Half pound (225g) boiled and mashed potatoes
2.5oz (65g) flour
3 tablespoons melted butter
Half teaspoon salt

Mash the potatoes while they are still warm and add the butter and salt. Add in enough flour to make it a pliable dough but without making it too dry. The type of potato will affect this. Turn out onto a floured surface and roll until about quarter of an inch thick. Cut into six inch circles and then into quarters. Prick all over with a fork and cook in a heavy pan which has been lightly greased. Cook each side for about three minutes or until golden brown.
They must be eaten warm and can have either sweet or savoury toppings: cheese, jam or honey.

Bon Folláin – Bon appetit in Irish
Ith gu leóire – Bon appetit in Scots Gaelic

Nicholas McGegan