Chef offers new twist on Irish pub fare

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 12, 2016

I was reading my new issue of Palate and found a very nice article about an up and coming woman chef by the name of Savannah Haseler, who took on the job of executive chef at Twain’s Brewpub and Billiards in Decatur, Ga. Since taking her job four years ago she has elevated the standard pub fare menu of the sprawling, twenty-year old watering hole with proper French techniques and homegrown, sustainable ingredients.

gnocchi with blue cheese

Seeing what Haseler could do with Southern bar food she was asked to channel her creativity into another pub-driven cuisine: Ireland. She was eager to take on the challenge and consulted some old menus and cookbooks and borrowed one from a friend’s Irish grandmother.

“The Irish are penny pinchers. A lot of their dishes start with little more than starch and water.”

I found her dishes interesting and decided in honor of St. Patty’s Day I would do at least one. I chose her alternative to Shepherd’s Pie which is a gnocchi tossed in brown butter and crumbled blue cheese on top. This could be a St. Patrick’s Day to remember and not just for the beer!

Colcannon is from the Gaelic cal ceannann, white-headed cabbage. It is a true Irish soul food of mashed potatoes with cooked kale or cabbage.


From ‘Palate’ March 2016.

Colcannon Gnocchi with Brown Butter

4 servings

2 pounds potatoes, skins scrubbed

2 tablespoons butter

1 cup shredded cabbage

12 cloves garlic, shredded

2 tablespoons amber ale

3 tablespoons salt

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 whole egg

2 egg yolks

3-4 swipes nutmeg, on microplane

½ teaspoon white pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


Place potatoes on sheet tray in preheated oven and cook until tender, about 1 to 1 ½ hours.

While potatoes cook, heat 2 tablespoons butter in sauté pan. Once butter melts, add cabbage and garlic. Cook 2-3 minutes or until tender. Deglaze with beer and cook additional 2 minutes. Set aside to cool until potatoes are done.

When potatoes are done, cool to room temperature, then peel and shred into large bowl with food processor attachment or food mill.

Mix cabbage mixture with potatoes. Add salt, nutmeg and white pepper.

Make well in center of potato/cabbage mixture and sprinkle with flour, using all flour. Place egg and egg yolks in center of well and, using fork, stir into flour and potatoes (just like making pasta). Once egg is mixed in, bring dough together, kneading gently until ball forms. Knead gently another 4 minutes, until ball is dry to touch.

Bring large pot of salted water to boil and generously grease medium bowl with olive oil.

Roll baseball-sized ball of dough into ¾-inch diameter dowels and cut dowels into 1-inch long pieces. Roll into long cylinders, pinch with fingers, then cut with pastry scraper into small pillows.

Drop pieces into boiling water and cook about 1 minute, until floating. Remove with slotted spoon to oiled bowl.

Repeat process with remaining dough. Note: gnocchi can be made ahead. Just place cooked gnocchi immediately in ice bath. Once cool, strain into oil-greased bowl.

To Assemble

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon salt

4 cups gnocchi

½ lemon

1-2 pieces Blue cheese

Place large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add butter. When butter begins to brown, after about 2 minutes, add salt. Increase heat to high and add gnocchi.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until gnocchi has heated through, about 1 ½ minutes.

Squeeze lemon over gnocchi and crumble blue cheese. Serve Immediately.