Colcannon: Something for the Halloween Weekend

There’s no two ways about it, when it comes to Halloween, you Yanks beat us hands down. But it is of course our Irish cousins who hold the claim to the origin of Halloween, and they have the food and folklore to go with it.

Colcannon is traditionally served on what was known as All Hallows Eve. It’s a deliciously creamy mashed potato, mixed with a variety of scallions, cabbage and bacon or ham. A healthy dose of Irish storytelling comes with this recipe; here’s two traditional tales behind how it’s served on Halloween:

charms were mixed in with the colcannon. Depending on what charm you found it was seen as a portent for the future. A button meant you would remain a bachelor and a thimble meant you would remain a spinster for the coming year. A ring meant you would get married and a coin meant you would come into wealth…

Unmarried women would put the first and last spoonfuls of Halloween colcannon into a stocking and hang it on their doors. Their shared belief was that the first man who walked through the door would become their husband…

Anything but the thimble!

Here we’ve given you our mashed potato recipe, along with the correct amounts of additional ingredients for you to add how you see fit. We’ve done it this way round as mashed potato will be a key component of future recipes (Shepherd’s Pie anyone?).

Mashed Potato, and Colcannon

Keep your ghouls well fed

Serves 2-3 (for a pie that serves 6-8, double this recipe)
Preparation time: 30 minutes

3 lbs. potatoes, peeled (Idaho potatoes are ideal)
½ cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup Whole milk
Salt and pepper to taste.

  • Coarsely chop the potatoes and boil in lightly salted water for 20-25 minutes, until soft.
  • Drain them well and then mash the potatoes, stir in the butter and add the milk little by little until you reach your desired consistency.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • For Colcannon, add:
  • 1 head of cabbage, cored, finely chopped and steamed; 1 pound of ham or bacon, fried and chopped; 4 scallions, chopped and fried.
As ever, this recipe comes from our cookbook ‘Tea & Sympathy: The Life of an English teashop in New York’. It is now out of print but we have a few copies still in stock. To order, contact us at, or on 212-989-9735.
From everyone at Tea & Sympathy – Happy Halloween!

5 thoughts on “Colcannon: Something for the Halloween Weekend

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