Brown butter colcannon

Brown butter colcannon

I have a particular passion for this recipe. Mash in any form has a special place in my heart, but this is simply sublime. I go dreamy-eyed every time I eat it, which is often.


  • 1–1.25kg/2lb 4oz–2lb 12oz Kerr’s Pink, Golden Wonder or Rooster potatoes, preferably of a uniform size, scrubbed
  • 200g/7oz stripped and torn kale (weight once stripped from the stems)
  • 250ml/9fl oz full-fat milk
  • 150g/5½oz unsalted butter, cubed
  • 4 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Put the potatoes, whole, into a large pan of salted cold water and bring to the boil. Partially cover the pan and cook at a robust simmer (checking that the pan isn’t boiling dry, and that the water isn’t bubbling so fiercely the potatoes break into pieces) until the potatoes feel tender when you pierce them gently with a fork. Smaller potatoes will take around 40 minutes, larger ones around 1 hour.

  2. Cook the kale in a small amount of salted boiling water for 5 minutes or until it’s soft and then drain. When you can handle it without burning yourself, squeeze out the excess water and put the kale back in the hot pan, cover the pan and leave to one side.

  3. Once your potatoes are tender, gently take them out of the pan (draining them in a colander may make them disintegrate and get waterlogged) and place on a board. Empty out the pan and give it a quick wipe with kitchen paper. Put it back on the turned-off hob and return the potatoes to the pan to dry out for a couple of minutes.

  4. Warm the milk in a jug in the microwave. Mash the potatoes. I like the texture from the skins, so I simply pour in the warmed milk and set to with a masher. (Whatever you do, don’t use a stick blender or you’ll turn them to glue.) Fold in the cooked kale and season to taste. Put the lid on while you make the brown butter and warm a serving dish.

  5. Put a small heatproof jug by the hob. Melt the butter in a heavy-based saucepan over a gentle heat. Once the butter’s melted, turn the heat to medium and cook, swirling the pan regularly, for about 7 minutes, until the butter starts to turn a deep golden brown, with dark speckles at the bottom of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and add the sliced spring onions, which will make the butter sizzle furiously.

  6. Pour a third of the brown butter into your little jug and the rest into the potato pan. Beat the brown butter into the colcannon and then scrape into your warmed dish, making swirls in the top of the colcannon with your spatula. Pour the remaining brown butter on top and take to the table.

Recipe Tips

To make brown butter it’s not essential that your butter is soft before you start, though I prefer it to be, but it must be unsalted. Keep the heat low until it’s melted, giving it the odd nudge with a spatula, and then turn the heat to medium and keep stirring regularly as it bubbles away, to stop the bits that are browning first from sticking too much to the base of the pan.