Thursday, November 8, 2007

Delicious Divination on Halloween: Colcannon and Grilled Pumpkin

Colcannon is a great dish to prepare for Samhain. It's a traditional Irish dish with a long history. Do a Google search and a number of versions will turn up. My friend Green Ghost recommends the web page of the band Colcannon, which in addition to a good recipe, features other traditional meals.

However, most recipes for Colcannon are just versions on a theme. The recipe below is based on the one featured in Edain Mcoy's book 'The Sabbats'. Colcannon is based on potatoes and cabbage, subsistence vegetables people counted on to sustain them through the cruel winter. Reflecting its Pagan roots, the dish can be prepared in a way that features an entertaining form of deviation. This recipe serves 8:

4 cups mashed potatoes
2 1/2 cups cabbage, cooked and chopped fine
1/2 cup butter (do not use margarine)
1/2 cup evaporated milk or cream
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper

Sauté the onion in butter. When the onions are translucent, add all the ingredients together, except the cabbage, into a large pan. Stir with medium heat, blending the ingredients well. Next, add the cabbage, continuing heating and stirring until the mix takes on a green hue. Your colconnan is now ready to serve.

If you live by the adage 'The Olde Ways are Best', now mix in a thimble, ring, coin, and button! This was a type of deviation. If you wound up with the button in your portion, you'd remain a bachelor for the next year, the thimble meant spinsterhood, getting the coin foretold a coming fortune, and the lucky lass who got the ring would soon be married. Of course, if you're going to so honor your guests and the Pagan roots of this meal, by all means WARN THEM! There's an obvious choking hazard here. This is suppose to be a celebration, not a performance of Shirley Jackson's The Lottery.

Note: most recipes include strong admonitions against using margarine. It seems margarine renders this dish into horrible tasting glop. Some use kale instead of cabbage, but most maintain cabbage is more authentic. This year, on the recommendation of a friend, I used 'Savory' cabbage, which has a darker green and more crinkled leaf form than the varieties I've used in the past. It did indeed impart more greenish to the mix, just as I desired.

Now onto Grilled Pumpkin!

I just found this recipe in an issue of Mother Jones Magazine. It's a great finger food and one of the easiest treats to prepare. It sure beat getting pumpkin pie together from scratch! Above all, make sure you are using cooking or sugar pumpkins and not the tasteless behemoths intended for jack-o'-lanterns:

1 sugar Pumpkin
Olive oil

Seed then cut the pumpkin into long slices. Next, brush slices with olive oil. Then sprinkle the slices with rosemary. Now toss the slices onto a hot grill. After a minute or two, when the one side is browned and has nice grill marks, turn over with tongs or spatula and cook the other sides.

This treat was really fun to prepare this year. The warm grill was across the porch from my altar, where we stood in the cool air, enjoying at all the Halloween decorations.


Anonymous said...

Both great recipes! Thanks for sharing!

genexs said...

Thanx. Colcannon takes some time and causes a bit of a mess, but it's well worth it. Oh, and if you don't have a grill, I think the pumpkin dish would work on a cookie sheet or baking dish in the oven. Maybe even a frying pan.