Abra has since set forth on those aspirations. She works as a chef in Chicago and is part-owner of Michigan's Bare Knuckle Farm, where she runs beautiful farm dinners (she also just shared this fantastic Celery Ham Tart recipe on the blog!). Recently, I was asked to contribute St. Patrick's Day-related recipes to Domicile DC's spring issue, and was browsing through The Hoosier Mama Book of Pie, where I remembered I'd seen a recipe for Colcannon Pie. Then upon reading the headnote, I discovered that the recipe was inspired by Ms. Abra Berens herself. Of course!
Colcannon is a traditional Irish dish made of mashed potatoes with kale or cabbage, combined with leeks or scallions and butter or cream (as most traditional dishes go, there are many different regional variations). In Ireland, colcannon is historically associated with Halloween--charms hidden inside the colcannon bowl were a game of marriage divination for young girls. Here in the United States, the dish is affiliated with St. Patrick's Day, like many Irish and pseudo-Irish things.
This recipe uses colcannon as a double crust pie filling and adds a few extra ingredients like pickles, maple syrup, and apple cider vinegar. Abra uses spicy pickled ramps in her colcannon and Paula Haney of Hoosier Mama calls for celery and shallot pickles in hers, but this time I used Hot Chili Spears from DC locals Gordy's Pickle Jar. The added spice was superb, though you could really use any type of savory pickle you have on hand. Since making it for Domicile and the blog, I also prepared it with friends on a snowy weekend in the Hudson Valley--the perfect context for it, as this is a hearty pie that really sticks to your ribs (I could insert some nerdy potato famine joke here, but I shall refrain). And as a warning, this recipe has a lot of steps and takes some time to make. It's best made when you have some time on your hands, have prepared some items--like the mashed potatoes-- in advance, or have extra hands to help out.
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Adapted from The Hoosier Mama Book of Pie
2 heads roasted garlic
Approximately 2 ½ pounds potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1 ½ inch cubes
1 cup sour cream
1 stick unsalted butter
¼ cup whole milk
1. Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water by 2 inches. Add a few pinches of salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Then reduce the heat.
2. Continue to boil the potatoes at medium-high heat until they are fork tender, about 15-20 minutes. Transfer the potatoes to a colander and set aside until the water is drained.
3. Add the sour cream and butter to the still warm pot and warm over medium heat until the butter is melted.
4. Mash the potatoes (I used a standing mixer) and stir them together with cream mixture. Squeeze the roasted garlic from the heads. Add the whole milk and fold in the roasted garlic. Season to taste with salt.
Adapted from The Hoosier Mama Book of Pie
¼ head green cabbage, shredded
2 Tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1 bunch kale, de-stemmed and finely chopped
¼ cup hard cider
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tablespoon maple syrup
2 Tablespoon water
½ cup sour cream
3 Tablespoons buttermilk
4 cups roasted garlic mashed potatoes (recipe below)
¼ cup Gordy’s Pickle Jar Hot Chili Spears, diced (or your favorite pickle variety)
1 large egg, beaten
1. Prepare Nothing in the House pie crust as per the directions. After chilling the dough for at least 1 hour, roll and fit half the crust into a greased and floured pie pan. Return pan and top crust (rolled or unrolled) to the refrigerator while you prepare the filling. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Toss the cabbage with olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste. Spread out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast the cabbage for 25-30 minutes, turning the pan halfway through, until leaves are soft and starting to brown.
3. Meanwhile, toss the chopped kale with hard cider, vinegar, maple syrup and water in an ovenproof baking dish. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover pan tightly with aluminum foil and braise in the oven for 25-30 minutes (it can go in while the cabbage is still roasting). Halfway through, stir and add a bit more water and hard cider if the bottom of the baking dish is dry.
4. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir the sour cream and buttermilk into the mashed potatoes. Set aside.
5. Once the cabbage and kale are cooled, combine them, discarding any remaining liquid. Fold the diced pickles and greens into the mashed potatoes. Taste and adjust salt and pepper, if needed. Pour the filling into the pie shell, spreading evenly with a spatula.
6. Remove crust from refrigerator. Position the top crust over filling and flute and seal the edges. Be sure to add vents so the steam can escape. Freeze the pie at least 1 hour before baking.
7. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the frozen pie on a baking sheet and brush the beaten egg over the pie crust and sprinkle with salt, if desired.
Tri-color potato, Caramelized Onion, Goat Cheese, and Rosemary Galette
Update: Thank you to Food52 for featuring this in their "8 Food Blog Links We Love"!