Growing up in the Hysmith household, St. Patrick’s Day was a big deal. We’d pull out all the Irish stops College Station, Texas had to offer. We’d go to Bennigan’s, dye everything green, watch The Quiet Man on repeat, and try to fit potatoes into every meal that day. Each year the festivities grew more elaborate. My brother and I made multiple mixed CD’s of Irish rock, ballads, and bagpipe music. We learned how to make authentic Irish dishes and even invested in a couple of Gaelic cookbooks. One year, my friend and I created a complex leprechaun themed scavenger hunt that took my Dad and brother across the neighbourhood and back. The pot of gold at the end of the hunt was our old worn cast-iron Dutch oven which we filled with baking potatoes, gold coins, and a single bottle of Guinness and tucked it under my Dad’s bed. I guess you could say we were really invested in the holiday. Now that I’m older I don’t leave green footprints for my family to find and I will never make the mistake of pouring gold glitter on top of the fan blades and wait for an unsuspecting brother to flip it on (I had to clean that one up). While the leprechaunesque tricks might be over, I still enjoy a little childhood fun on this odd holiday. These Colcannon Tots with Cheddar Beer Dip combine the best of both worlds. American childhood junk food meets traditional Irish cuisine. Plus a little beer-laced cheese dip now that I’m finally old enough to enjoy it.
2 large russet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 1/2 cups kale, shredded fine
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
2 tablespoons butter, melted
cooking spray for the pan
1. Set the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Scrub potatoes clean. Transfer to a baking sheet and roast until fork-tender (leave the oven on to bake the tots) Rinse the potatoes under cold water or dunk in ice water until cool enough to handle.
3. With a box grater set over a large bowl, grate potatoes, removing skins as necessary. To the bowl, add the kale, nutmeg, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and white pepper, stirring with a fork to combine. Pour melted butter over the potato mixture, stirring to thoroughly coat.
4. Liberally coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray. Form about a tablespoon of the potato mixture into a small cylinder using your hands, place on baking sheet, and continue until all the mixture is used. Lightly spray the tops of the tots with additional cooking spray, transfer the baking sheet to the oven, and bake until golden brown (about 35 to 45 minutes) turning the tots halfway through. Serve hot with Cheddar Beer Dip.
Cheddar Beer Dip
makes about 2 cups
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
2/3 cup hop-heavy beer
1 cup Irish Cheddar, freshly grated
1. In a small sauce pan, melt the butter. Once it has melted, sprinkle the flour over the butter, whisking to combine. Continue to whisk, cooking the flour slightly, but do not let it burn or darken.
2. To the pan, add the spices, whisking to combine.
3. To the pan, carefully add the beer, whisking to combine. The beer may froth, so turn down the heat if necessary.
4. Gradually add the Cheddar, whisking in between additions. Continue to cook over low heat until the cheese is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Serve immediately with Colcannon Tots.