Colcannon and Salmon in the Little Skillet Pot


(above:  Cliffs of Moher- A. Morgan, 2003)
    In 2012, I blogged daily in a Lenten journal.  You can go day by day or read as you like.  For instance, today is day 9 of the 40 days; read it here.
Most St. Patrick’s Day dinners, you’ll find a pot of potato soup and a grand loaf of Irish soda bread on my table.  I’ve been making it for as long as I’ve been responsible for the dinner. So if that’s what you fancy, you’re in for a treat; I’ve blogged it already here. One year, however, I also did a great Guinness Beef Pot Pie with Cheddar Biscuits. It’s not hard, but it takes a while to make. (Worth every minute of it.)
This year I’ve a notion to create something — one meal — out of two favorite Irish dishes — colcannon (mashed potatoes with cabbage or kale and milk) and salmon, a lovely, healthy fish that thrives along Ireland’s west coastline.  While I love both colcannon and salmon, I’ve never had them together and certainly never cooked them together in one skillet.  Today’s the day, but first listen to this sweet song (click on title for link) “Colcannon,” by the Black Family– sometimes known as “The Little Skillet Pot”.  Lyrics are below.

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?

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.

Did you ever take potato cake in a basket to the school,
Tucked underneath your arm with your book, your slate and rule?
And when the teacher wasn’t looking, sure, a great big bite you’d take,
Of the creamy flavoured buttered soft and sweet potato cake.

Did you ever go a-courting as the evening sun went down,
And the moon began a-peeping from behind the Hill o’ Down?
As you wandered down the boreen where the leprechaun was seen,
And you whispered loving phrases to your little fair colleen.

lyrics courtesy


alyce’s colcannon and salmon in the little skillet pot

for Saint Patrick’s Day or for any Friday in Lent, if you choose that walk.

METHOD:   First… Boil some potatoes with a little carrot and add some kale right at the end of the cooking time. Mash all with hot milk seasoned with green onions.  Press the potato mixture into a deep skillet and steam the salmon on top until firm, but moist and tender.  I served mine with a few buttered skinny green beans (haricots verts).

serves 4



  • 2-3 pounds white potatoes, peeled, and cut into quarters
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • Kosher salt and fresh-ground pepper
  • Salted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup chopped green onions (one bunch white and green parts)
  • 3 cups young (baby) kale, chopped finely
  • 4 Salmon fillets, 6ounces each
  • 1 lemon, cut in half (slice half to cook the salmon and cut the other half into wedges and serve at the table)

Side dish:  3 cups cooked green beans or haricots verts, seasoned with butter, salt and pepper

  • Place potatoes and carrots in a 4-quart pot. Add water to cover plus an additional inch or two.  Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are almost tender, about 20 minutes.  Add kale and cook 2 minutes.  Drain the vegetables and return, covered, to pot; keep warm until milk is hot. (See next step.)


Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan, heat milk and a tablespoon of butter with all but 3 tablespoons of the green onions (Reserve the 3 tablespoons for garnish).    You want the milk hot, but not boiling.  Keep warm until potatoes are done.

Add another tablespoon of butter to the potato mixture along with 3/4 of the milk mixture; mash until as smooth or chunky as you like.  Taste and reseason if necessary.



  1. To a deep, large skillet, add the remainder of the milk-green onion mixture and heat over medium flame.  Add all of the colcannon (potato-kale mixture above) and press evenly into the pan.  Lay the salmon fillets, evenly spaced, on top of the colcannon; season with a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper. Dot each fillet with a small bit of butter –about 1/2 teaspoon each — and place a lemon slice on each piece.  Cover and cook until fish is opaque and firm, but moist — 8 minutes or so. Turn heat down if potatoes begin to burn.   Let rest 2 minutes.

2. Using a long spatula, remove one whole serving of colcannon with the salmon on top, as possible, and place on a plate or pasta bowl.  Add a few green beans and garnish with reserved chopped green onions.  Serve hot.  Pass the lemon wedges at the table.

{printable recipe}

Wine:  Perhaps you’d as soon have a Guinness and if that’s the ticket, go for it.  If you’d rather have the wine, I’d like an inexpensive white burgundy (France). In fact, I would probably also like to have a red burgundy (France), but mostly couldn’t afford a good one.  In that case, I’d go with an American Pinot Noir, an Oregon one, please.  (Any day:  A-Z.  Special occasion:  Ken Wright or Sineann or Cristom.)


(I only needed three portions, but there’s room and plenty of colcannon for four.)

Music: There are many possibilities and they’re all wonderful.  Just for fun, though, why don’t you pull out Van Morrison or U2.  Both Irish and both perfect.


TRADITIONAL COLCANNON RECIPE FROM DARINA ALLEN HERE. (Darina is the well-known, actually famous, Irish chef and teacher who owns and operates the Ballymaloe Cooking School in Shanagerry, County Cork, Ireland. Classes available!)  See my post on Darina’s soda bread here.


Why there are no Irish recipes for Corned Beef and Cabbage; read here.  (Aside:  I’ve never seen corned beef and cabbage in Ireland myself.)

About fishing for salmon in Ireland, click here.  If you’re to go to school at Ballymaloe, you might as well take a friend who’ll go fish for the salmon while you study and cook.

Dance a new jig,


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