These humble, hearty dishes are comforting alternatives to the usual mash.
colcannon shepherds pie
Credit: John Dolan

Some of us grew up eating pasta with nearly every meal, while others will remember always having a side of rice. But if your family is of Irish (or Scottish, or English, or Welsh) origin, there's a good chance it's potatoes that always appeared on the plate at meal time. Whether mashed, roasted, or baked, potatoes are delicious, versatile, and cheap, and they last in the pantry (no refrigeration required).

Because the potato was the staple food for the Irish through many a hard time, thrifty cooks created a near endless number of recipes that use a lot of potatoes and a few other ingredients to make a simple, substantial, and tasty dish. In honor of St. Patrick's Day, we wanted to share a few of these great potato recipes, which work well as an alternative side dish on the holiday.



Author and Irish food authority Malachy McCormick says that colcannon is Ireland's national dish. (For the record, he dismissed corned beef and cabbage as a New World creation.) Of course, he's right: This is a dish of mashed potatoes and cabbage or kale dressed up with a little butter and milk—the kind of food people ate regularly. Our recipe also calls for leeks, which definitely elevates the mash. And if you want to go a step further, make shepherd's pie, topped not with the usual mashed potatoes but with colcannon—it's an inspired upgrade.

boxty potatoes


A great name for a great dish: Boxty is where mash meets pancake, and also where cooked potato (the mash), meets raw potato (the grated). In addition to its distinctive name, boxty has a fabulous texture that's the result of combining the raw and the cooked spud. Have boxty for breakfast (in place of the fried bread or as well as) or serve it with bangers (that's pork sausages if you didn't know).


Mashed Potato and Kale Cakes

Brits have a dish called bubble and squeak. It's a fabulous name: The leftover potatoes bubble and squeak as they gently fry in the skillet with leftover cabbage or other leafy greens. You make it on a Monday because you have those leftovers from the Sunday roast dinner. This delightful kale and potato dish is a riff on the traditional dish. It takes the basics a stage further because you actually have to form the mixture into cakes, which do look a lot better than the rather ragged format of Bubble and Squeak. Make this with leftover boiled or mashed potatoes by all means. And, of course, kale makes everything better.


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