Irish actor Peter O’Toole once famously quipped that his three favorite Irish foods were all Guinness.
But nowadays, Irish cooking isn’t about paucity. It has become much more sophisticated, with explorations of the island’s bounty of local seafood, meat, dairy and produce. And even what was once considered the most basic pub grub has taken more sophisticated turns.
In honor of St. Patrick’s Day — a holiday that’s still much bigger in the U.S. than Ireland — we gathered three favorite recipes from three of Atlanta’s most popular pub companies.
While none of the dishes are strictly a pint of Guinness, a la O’Toole, one of the recipes does use the classic Irish dry stout as an essential ingredient.
More surprisingly, perhaps, two of the recipes call for demi-glace, the silky French sauce of haute cuisine. But don’t worry, you can buy it at specialty food shops or online.
Bryan McAlister is the corporate chef for the Atlanta-based Fado Irish Pub company, which has locations in Buckhead and Midtown in a nationwide chain that features craft beer, cocktails and plenty of small plates, alongside more traditional fare.
McAlister’s tried-and-true Shepherd’s Pie is a regular menu item at Fado, currently served up in nifty cast iron skillets. The recipe uses ground beef instead of lamb and a rich sauce made with demi- glace.
“The recipe has been around a lot longer than I have,” says McAlister. “It’s a pretty simple comfort food dish but we pay attention to a few things inside the recipe that help with consistency and flavor and quality of the product. The big thing is the demi- glace.
“The goal is to make the mix of ground beef and vegetables as savory and rich as possible with the mashed potatoes or colcannon. It’s the classical French mother sauce and it’s the best solution to impart flavor into such a simple dish.”
Brian O’Rouke is the executive chef at Meehan’s Public House, with five metro Atlanta locations — Sandy Springs, Buckhead, Downtown, Atlantic Station and Vinings — that serve as elevated Irish eateries as well as neighborhood sports bars.
O’Rouke’s menu ranges from starters and salads to burgers and entrees. But his Bangers and Mash is an Irish classic made local with Heywood’s Provision Company Irish bangers, plated with mashed potatoes, mushrooms, onions and peas in a red wine demi-glace sauce.
“We spent an entire day tasting different sausage recipes at Heywood’s until we found one that met our qualifications, which was to be the pub that served the best banger possible,” O’Rouke says. “Our onion gravy is an old family recipe made in-house, along with our mashed potatoes.
“Our Bangers and Mash fit with the menu because it’s a traditional pub dish. We felt we couldn’t truly call ourselves an Irish pub without having the dish on there.”
Geoff Kokoszka is the director of operations for Atlanta’s Olde Blind Dog Irish Pub, a traditional pub with locations in Milton and Brookhaven that in 2015 was chosen Irish Pub of the Year by the Irish Pubs Global Federation of Dublin, Ireland.
Olde Blind Dog’s menu features the likely corned beef and cabbage and lamb stew but it also has Guinness Stout Onion Soup, an Irish-flavored take on the French standby.
“We have a lot of Scottish, British, Irish expatriates that come to our pubs because it makes them feel like they’re back at home,” Kokoszka says. “They like a good pint and traditional fish and chips. But the Guinness onion soup is most popular soup we serve.
“It’s very similar to a French onion soup but the difference is it’s not made with wine. It’s flavored with Guinness, which gives the soup more of a creamy body. You put the seasoned croutons in there, and you melt Kerrygold Dubliner Irish cheddar on top and you get a really nutty and sharp flavor.”
Olde Blind Dog Guinness Stout Onion Soup
This Guinness Stout-flavored onion soup is an Irish take on the French standby, topped with savory croutons and melted Kerrygold Dubliner Irish cheddar cheese.
For the soup:
1/4 cup butter
2 pounds yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced from root to stem
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 bottle Guinness draught stout
1 quart chicken stock
1 quart beef stock
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
Croutons, homemade or seasoned store-bought
Sliced Irish cheddar, preferably Kerrygold Dubliner
In a large pot, melt ¼ cup butter over medium heat.
When the butter is melted add onions, 1 tablespoon each salt and black pepper and very slowly begin to saute the onions over medium heat with a lid on the pot stirring often to evenly wilt onions.
When the onions are completely broken down, slightly brown and about ¼ of their original volume, add brown sugar and cook until dissolved.
When the brown sugar is dissolved increase the heat to medium high, remove lid and continue to cook the onions until the liquid is dissolved and they are golden brown.
When the onions are golden brown add the bottle of Guinness draught, 1 quart each of chicken and beef stock, the bay leaf and the 2 teaspoons of fresh thyme. Bring to a low boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes until the alcohol in the Guinness is evaporated.
Fill six crocks or bowls ¾ of the way with the soup, cover with croutons and sliced cheddar and broil in oven until the cheese is melted and golden brown.
Per serving, without croutons and cheese: 203 calories (percent of calories from fat, 40), 10 grams protein, 22 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 10 grams fat (5 grams saturated), 21 milligrams cholesterol, 1,090 milligrams sodium.
Fado Irish Pub Shepherd’s Pie
Shepherd’s Pie is a regular menu item at Fado, served up in small cast iron skillets. The recipe uses ground beef instead of lamb and a rich sauce made with demi-glace, which is available from local specialty food stores or Amazon in a prepared or powdered form.
For the Shepherd’s Pie:
2 cups demi-glace
1 pound ground beef
½ cup diced yellow onion
½ cup diced celery
½ cup diced leeks
1 ½ cups diced carrots
2 tablespoons roux — 2 tablespoons all purpose flour, 2 teaspoons olive oil combined into a paste
Heat the demi-glace in a medium pot on low.
In another pot add the ground beef and cook on medium heat while breaking up any lumps with a wooden spoon. Once ground beef is cooked through, drain off the grease and add back to the pot.
Add the prepared vegetables to the pot with the ground beef and simmer while stirring to cook the vegetables to al dente.
Add the warm demi-glace to the pot with the ground beef and vegetables and simmer to allow the flavors to combine and develop, about 10-12 minutes.
Whisk in the olive oil flour roux and let simmer another 6- 8 minutes so the mix can thicken slightly and cook the roux out.
For the colcannon:
1 ½ pounds Idaho potatoes peeled and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons green onions minced
2 tablespoons parsley minced
2 tablespoons cabbage steamed and minced
2 ounces butter cubed
2 tablespoons whole milk
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon white pepper
Boil the potatoes until soft and start to crumble to the touch. This is important as you don’t want lumps. Drain all the water off and place in a bowl of a stand up mixer with the paddle attachment. Or place in a bowl and mash with a potato masher. Add the green onions, parsley, cooked cabbage, butter, milk, salt and pepper to the bowl with the potatoes. If using a stand-up mixer, start out on low speed, then gradually up the speed to combine the ingredients into the potato and whip the potato until smooth 2-3 minutes. Be careful not to over mix the colcannon or it won’t be fluffy.
Cast iron skillet assembly and heating:
Makes 4 each small cast iron skillets or 1 larger cast iron skillet.
Split the shepherd pie mix evenly between the 4 smaller skillets or all in the larger skillet and allow to cool slightly before adding the colcannon. Place the colcannon in a large pastry bag with star tip while still warm and starting on the outer edge of the skillet, pipe small circles all the way around until coming back to where you started. Repeat this process until the pie is fully covered with colcannon.
Place in a 350 oven on the middle rack to heat the pie through and brown the edges of the colcannon, 8-10 minutes depending on the oven. A good sign to look for is when the outer edges start to bubble out some of the mix.
Per serving, entire recipe: 484 calories (percent of calories from fat, 56), 25 grams protein, 44 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams fiber, 45 grams fat (20 grams saturated), 128 milligrams cholesterol, 1,222 milligrams sodium.
Meehan’s Public House Bangers and Mash
Meehan’s Bangers and Mash is a menu classic made with Heywood’s Provision Company Irish bangers, mashed potatoes, mushrooms, onions and peas in red wine demi-glace. Demi-glace can be purchased from specialty food stores or Amazon in a prepared or powdered form.
3 tablespoons butter
1 yellow onion, sliced into 1/8” x 2” inch strips
1 pound crimini mushrooms, sliced 1/4” thick
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup frozen English peas
8 pork Banger sausages, available at butcher shops
1 quart demi-glace
2 quarts mashed potatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
Melt butter in a large 12” sauté pan and add onions.
Cook onions until golden brown to caramelize, stirring often.
Add mushrooms and garlic and cook until soft and moist .
Deglaze with warm demi-glace and add peas.
Stir in the roux, bring sauce to a simmer to thicken and season to taste with salt and black pepper.
For the roux:
8 ounces butter
12 ounces all purpose flour
Melt butter in a sauce pot over medium heat. Add flour and whisk well. Cook, stirring often, until roux turns light brown and smells pleasantly fragrant and nutty
For the mashed potatoes:
4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 inch dice
8 ounces butter
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 ½ tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Place potatoes in a 3-4 quart sauce pot, cover with cold water and bring to a boil uncovered.
Continue to boil for 20-30 minutes or until potatoes begin to break apart with a light pinch.
When potatoes are done cooking, strain into a colander and allow to drain.
Melt butter in the same pot you cooked your potatoes in and toast with garlic for 1-2 minutes.
Return cooked potatoes to the pot and add heavy cream.
Whip potatoes together with a strong whisk and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Grill bangers over a medium hot grill, turning often until lightly charred on the outside and very lightly pink and moist on the inside. Skin will begin to split or “bang” open when sausages are done.
Place mashed potatoes in a 9” by 13” casserole dish and spread evenly over the bottom
Place grilled bangers over mashed potatoes.
Pour sauce over grilled bangers and mashed potatoes.
Per serving: 800 calories (percent of calories from fat, 61), 13 grams protein, 62 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams fiber, 53 grams fat (30 grams saturated), 137 milligrams cholesterol, 1,369 milligrams sodium.
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