Those who still think Irish cooking is all about bland boiled cabbage and potatoes with desiccated hunks of lamb or beef haven’t been keeping up.
Like everyone else, it seems, the Irish have rediscovered homegrown farm ingredients, while reaching out to incorporate international flavors with exciting results.
You’re still likely to find stuff like corned beef and cabbage and lamb stew on menus in Irish pubs around the U.S.— especially on St. Patrick’s Day.
With that in mind, we asked a couple of Atlanta chefs to come with dishes that would put a little twist on tradition, while still honoring the great Irish-American holiday.
Bryan McAlister is the corporate chef for the Atlanta-based Fado Irish Pub company, where he develops recipes and sources ingredients for the chain of pubs that stretches from coast to coast.
While Guinness and fish and chips were once the standard fare at Fado, the menus now feature craft beer and cocktails and plenty of small plates.
“We went from very old-school traditional recipes to bringing in all sorts of different items and presentations,” McAlister said. “We’re definitely pushing the boundary on what people expect pub food to look and taste like.”
For a March special at Fado in Midtown, McAlister came up with a salmon and potato dumpling dish that’s flavored with blistered grape tomatoes, shitake mushrooms, spinach, and a tarragon mustard cream sauce.
“All those things go great with salmon, with little bursts of flavor,” he said. “And the dumplings are a fun way to use potatoes.”
Another fresh dish McAlister will be offering in March is grilled lamb rib chops with a roasted cauliflower and barley salad.
“I wanted to do something with lamb and barley, but lighten it up a little bit, and not do a soup or stew” McAlister said. “With the salad, we simply roasted some cauliflower florets, and added some golden raisins for a puff of sweetness, with a bit of feta cheese and a mint vinaigrette.”
Kaitie Trent is the pastry chef at Parish Brasserie and Neighborhood Cafe in Atlanta, where she supplies desserts and baked goods for both the restaurant and the downstairs cafe.
Trent was a talented home cook before getting into baking at a restaurant. Her recipe for Irish Soda Bread Muffins, which will be a featured item at Neighborhood Cafe in March, is rooted in home baking.
“With St. Patrick’s Day I wanted to get away from stuff that’s just colored green,” Trent said. “I have some Irish heritage and I thought about making Irish soda bread as muffins.
“I experimented with a few recipes and came up with one that I developed from what a home cook might make. It has a really nice sweet-tart flavor from currants and a savory aroma from caraway seeds. I thought it would be perfect for the Market this month.”
These recipes from Atlanta chefs Bryan McAlister and Kaitie Trent offer a few twists on traditional St. Patrick’s Day fare.
Pan-seared Salmon With Rooster Potato Dumplings and Tarragon Mustard Cream Sauce
This salmon-and-potato-dumplings dish from Fado Irish Pub corporate chef Bryan McAlister is given a contemporary touch with blistered grape tomatoes, shitake mushrooms, spinach, and a tarragon mustard cream sauce. Look for it as limited March special at Fado in Midtown.
McAlister uses round, red-skinned Rooster potatoes, which are popular in Ireland but have only recently been grown in the U.S. Any waxy, all-purpose potato will work well for this recipe.
For the potato dumplings
3 quarts water
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup cooked, peeled and mashed potatoes, refrigerated until cold
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 egg, beaten
¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg
To make the dumplings:
Place the water and salt in a large pot and bring to a boil. While the water is heating place the cold mashed potatoes in a medium size bowl and add the flour, beaten egg and nutmeg. Mix well using your hands then turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 1 minute, until mixture is the texture of cookie dough. Roll into a log 1 inch in diameter and cut with a knife into 1/4 inch pieces and place on a plate. Once water is boiling, add the dumplings one at a time. Once they begin to float, reduce the heat to low and poach for 5 minutes. Remove from the pot using a slotted spoon and place in an ice bath to cool for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the ice bath and pat dry with paper towels, and hold until time to finish the dish.
Makes: 16 dumplings
For the mustard sauce
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/3 cup yellow onion, diced
3/4 cup heavy cream
¾ cup chicken stock or broth
1 teaspoon Coleman’s mustard
1 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
salt and white pepper to taste
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
roux with 1 ½ teaspoons all-purpose flour and 1 teaspoon canola oil
To make the sauce:
Place the white wine, garlic and onion in a medium sized pot and bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Add the heavy cream and chicken stock and bring back to a boil, then simmer for another 5 minutes. Strain the sauce into a new pot to remove the onion. Whisk in the Coleman’s mustard, whole-grain mustard, salt and white pepper and simmer for another 5 minutes. Whisk in the roux and continue to simmer until sauce thickens slightly for 7 – 10 minutes. Keep warm until time to make the dish.
Yield: 1 ½ cups
To finish and serve the dish:
4 6-ounce fresh salmon filets, seasoned with salt & pepper
24 grape tomatoes
16 shitake mushrooms torn in half
8 tablespoons dry white wine
8 ounces baby spinach
white wine mustard sauce
16 potato dumplings
4 teaspoons fresh tarragon leaves, divided
Heat a large sauteé pan until hot, add a bit oil to coat the pan and sear each seasoned salmon filet until golden brown on both sides. Cook to medium or your desired temperature. Remove from pan and set aside. In the same pan add the tomatoes, stirring constantly to blister. They should start to darken in color and the skin of the tomato should break slightly. Add the mushrooms and sauteé 1-2 minutes until slightly brown. Add the wine and then the spinach and once the spinach starts to wilt, remove from the heat. In a separate large pan add the mustard sauce and dumplings and heat the dumplings through 2-3 minutes and stir in half the tarragon leaves.
Divide the dumplings and mustard sauce evenly in four bowls. Divide and spoon the tomato, mushroom and spinach mixture evenly over top of the dumplings in each bowl. Lean a salmon filet over the dumplings in each bowl and garnish with remaining tarragon leaves.
Per serving including dumplings and sauce: 1,028 calories (percent of calories from fat,77), 50 grams protein, 62 grams carbohydrates, 9 grams fiber, 60 grams fat (27 grams saturated), 286 milligrams cholesterol, 560 milligrams sodium.
Grilled Lamb Rib Chops With Roasted Cauliflower and Barley Salad
Hearty but surprisingly bright, this recipe for grilled lamb rib chops with roasted cauliflower and barley salad from Fado Irish Pub corporate chef Bryan McAlister is flavored with golden raisins, feta cheese and mint vinaigrette. Ask your butcher for petite “Frenched” lamb rib chops with the bones attached.
To marinate the lamb chops:
12 petite “Frenched” lamb rib chops with bones attached
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
2 teaspoons chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped mint
Place the lamb chops in a large zipper storage bag. Add the oil, garlic, salt, pepper, rosemary and mint to the bag with the lamb chops and close. Toss to coat evenly and allow to marinate at least 2 hours in the refrigerator.
For the Roasted Cauliflower:
1 pound cauliflower florets
4 tablespoons canola oil
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350. Place cauliflower florets in a bowl and add the oil, salt and pepper and toss to coat. Spread cauliflower evenly on a sheet pan and roast in the oven until the edges are golden brown, about 12-14 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool prior to assembling the barley salad.
For the mint vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons green onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon garlic, chopped
¼ cup honey
½ cup red wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
5 tablespoons mint leaves, roughly chopped
1 cup canola oil
Place the green onions in a large mixing bowl. Add the chopped garlic, honey, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper and mint. Drizzle the oil into the bowl while stirring constantly with a whisk.
For the barley salad:
2 cups cooked pearl barley, well-drained, but not rinsed, and cooled in the refrigerator
1 pound roasted cauliflower florets
¼ cup golden raisins
¼ cup red onion, julienned
¼ cup carrots, julienned
4 radishes, thinly sliced
½ cup mint vinaigrette
In a large bowl, combine cooked barley, cauliflower, raisins, red onion, carrots, radishes and mint vinaigrette and toss to coat evenly.
To finish and serve the dish:
12 lamb chops
4 cups barley salad
crumbled feta cheese torn mint leaves
Remove lamb chops from marinade and pat dry. In a hot grill pan, grill lamb chops on both sides until cooked to medium rare or desired temperature. While the chops are cooking, divide the barley salad between four bowls and garnish with feta and mint leaves. Lean three lamb chops on the barley salad in each bowl and drizzle the salad and lamb chops with a little more mint vinaigrette.
Per serving: 585 calories (percent of calories from fat, 75), 16 grams protein, 21 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams fiber, 49 grams fat (14 grams saturated), 67 milligrams cholesterol, 350 milligrams sodium.
Irish Soda Bread Muffins
This updated take on traditional Irish soda bread from Parish Brasserie and Neighborhood Cafe pastry chef Kaitie Trent will be on sale at the restaurant’s market cafe in March. But you can make your own at home anytime with this easy recipe.
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
¼ cup vegetable oil
¾ cup dried currants
¼ cup butter, melted
Place the flour, sugar, salt, caraway seeds, baking powder and baking soda into a large bowl. Using a whisk, stir the ingredients to combine them well. In a separate medium-sized bowl place the egg, buttermilk and oil. Using a whisk again, mix the ingredients until they are homogenous. Pour the liquid components into the dry components, stirring with a spatula or wooden spoon until the mixture has just started to come together. A few lumps will remain; this is okay. Last, gently fold the melted butter into the batter until no traces of the butter can be seen throughout. Finish by folding in the currants and resting the batter for thirty minutes or an hour if possible in the refrigerator.
Prepare your muffin tin by greasing with your preferred non-stick spray or butter (or use disposable muffin cups). Fill each cup three-fourths full. Sprinkle a pinch of sugar on the surface of each muffin to add an extra touch of sweetness and a slight crunch to the top. Bake at 400ºF for 15 minutes. Cool for five minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack. Serve warm, with butter, jam or honey.
Makes: 1 dozen muffins
Per muffin: 232 calories (percent of calories from fat, 35), 4 grams protein, 34 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 9 grams fat (3 grams saturated), 29 milligrams cholesterol, 264 milligrams sodium.
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