My St. Patrick's Day plan usually looks like this: Make corned beef just so we can eat hash for as many days as possible. Cook some cabbage. Maybe bake a loaf of whole grain soda bread, and definitely pour some Guinness or other creamy stout. I could be convinced to put the beer in a chocolate cake. But mostly, I aim to avoid the young revelers who are pouring anything green into anything else. If I'm going to consume something green, I want it to be a vegetable.
Of course, there's more to Irish food than corned beef, and these days, many of us are aiming to eat less beef anyway. So we asked our Senior Food Editor, Anna Stockwell, to play around with a centerpiece-worthy St. Patrick's Day recipe that would be equally comforting and delicious, perfect for a festive dinner party that gives you an excuse to skip the scene at the bars outside.
If you love colcannon, the classic combination of mashed potatoes with kale or cabbage, you'll love this, too.
To make this cabbage leaf-wrapped, bacon-and-cheese-enriched mashed potato skillet pie, you'll start with about a half hour of multitasking, followed by a half hour that's pretty hands off. First, you're going to need a large pot of boiling salted water for the cabbage leaves, a medium pot of cold salted water for cooking the potatoes, and a 10" cast-iron skillet for rendering the bacon and caramelizing the rest of the cabbage. Got those ready? Let's go.
You'll add the peeled and cubed potatoes to the medium pot while the water's still cold. Bring them to a boil then reduce the heat, letting them simmer until the potatoes are tender, which should take about 20 to 25 minutes.
While that's happening, you're going to trim 10 outer leaves from a frilly Savoy cabbage, removing about two inches of the thickest part of the stem from the very center of each leaf. (This keeps your cabbage wrapping delicate all the way around, so it's easy to cut and eat.) You'll blanch these leaves in the large pot, then pop them in an ice bath to halt the cooking and keep their vibrant green color.
Now put that skillet to work. Get the chopped bacon sizzling, and when it's beginning to crisp, add the remainder of your cabbage (sliced thinly) and some onion, which will get nice and soft and golden brown over the 20 minutes that it cooks in that bacon fat. This process will amplify the flavor of just three slices of bacon, infusing it into the cabbage, the onions, and eventually, the potatoes, too.
While you sauté, you'll form some good fond (meaning delicious crispy brown bits on the bottom of the pan), which you'll incorporate into the mix by deglazing with tangy apple cider vinegar. That fond, Anna says, "has a lot of flavor, and the vinegar adds an important note of tartness that balances out all the starch and creamy richness that's happening in the pie." Fresh thyme scents the whole thing, and cuts the richness a little, too.
Once your potatoes are cooked, you'll drain and return them to the big pot, melt in some butter, and start mashing. The thing is, though, that mashed potatoes tend to flow and flop, not slice neatly into wedges. To make a proper mashed-potato pie, the trick is mixing in a combo of eggs and cream, which enriches the dish and firms it up just enough without making it taste eggy. Finally, you'll dump in the bacony contents of your skillet, stir in some bold, sharp cheddar, and get ready for wrapping up the package (in cabbage, of course).
Don't wash that skillet! Just wipe it out a bit and dot with butter. Then line the skillet all the way around with frilly cabbage leaves, making sure that the leaves go up the sides of the skillet and hang over the rim by about two inches. (You're using Savoy cabbage here, because it's so lovely and delicate, but also because it bends nicely, which makes the whole thing work better.) Do cover the entire bottom of the skillet, overlapping each leaf by just about an inch. "The cabbage leaves do shrink a bit as they cook," warns Anna, "so you can avoid holes by having that overlap."
Fill it up with your cheesy, creamy potato mixture, then fold the leaves over the top, covering the center with the remaining leaves in a single layer with overlapping edges. It's a pretty, green pie—even more so when you put a bit more butter on the top and bake it until it's just slightly crisped. A small serrated knife works best for slicing; use a pie server to transfer each slice to a plate. But be sure to bring it out to the table first—who needs flowers when you've got such a beautifully arranged cabbage-leaf centerpiece? A little salad would be nice on the side, if you insist that your St. Patrick's Day needs even more green.Anna Stockwell
Originally Appeared on Epicurious