Thursday, March 15, 2012

In 1492, the first step was made to producing Colcannon

St Patrick's day is coming up. The wearing of the green , the drinking till you are green ( for many) and a lot of potato recipes. For some reason, many people think that the potato is the product of Ireland. It isn't. The potato was originally grown in South and Central America and brought back to Europe by good ole Christopher Columbus. Same is true with the tomato and corn. Consider that fact for a moment- before 1501, no one in Ireland had ever heard of a potato, let alone farm one or eat one. And no one in Italy had ever seen a tomato or corn, let alone grown or cooked one. Thus ends the historical pizza and polenta quest.  While the Irish embraced the potato as a way of heading off starvation ( and ultimately being brought to starvation because of it), the French did not accept it. I think they were too busy playing with ducks.The Italians, who quickly lost the belief that the tomato and potato were poisonous,  busied themselves with learning how to prepare these items.

While many have no problem seeing potatoes in Irish and English food ( Corned Beef and Cabbage is an  English dish), people have problems thinking of potatoes in Italian dishes. I think it is because of our American concept of what Italian food is , or should be. Italians had a longer growing season than the Irish, less rocky soil and no political reasons for small farms . As a result had a lot more potatoes to play with as well as more ingredients to combine them with. The result was a more flavorful dish. Potatoes even wound up in a form of pasta called Gnocchi. This tasty little cross between a pasta and a dumpling makes for a tasty comfort food option, to be sure !
Gnocchi with garlic and sage butter

2 12 oz packages potato gnocchi
¼ c butter
1 clove garlic, de-germed and minced
10 leaves fresh sage , chopped
¼ t salt
¼ t pepper
¼ c grated Parmesan cheese plus 2 T for sprinkling

Bring large pot of water to he boil . Add gnocchi and cook until they float to the surface. Drain. Melt butter in a skillet, and add garlic. Cook till golden , then add sage, salt and pepper, toss a minute, add cooked gnocchi, toss and add ¼ cup cheese. Toss. Sprinkle with remaining 2 T cheese and serve.

Now my mind  is contemplating the awesome possibilities of a slow roasted lamb breast served over gnocchi , or something like that. Fusion flavor- like so many of us Americans with roots tracing back to unlikely sounding cultural combinations . It could happen.

1 comment:

Dutch said...

My sister loves Colcannon. I want to make it one day. It sounds delicious. Have a great day.