Forget everything you thought you knew about traditional Irish foods for St. Patrick’s Day. David Cook, co-owner of Gather Food Studio, knows the origins of such dishes as colcannon potatoes and shepherd’s pie, as well as some interesting facts about potatoes, and they’re not all that Irish or related to the popular holiday.
He credits Celtic pagans for colcannon potatoes — served at Halloween.
Halloween “was a celebration of fall harvest with a feast cooked on All Hallows Eve,” he said. “Colcannon potatoes started as a dish served at that meal.”
And while you can’t go anywhere in Ireland without seeing shepherd’s pie on the menu, it “isn’t Irish by design,” Cook said. The recipe comes from shepherds in northern England and Scotland, who made mashed potatoes as a crust to fill with beef, carrots and gravy, then top with more mashed potatoes.
“It was originally called cottage pie, named for the cottages that peasant farmers lived in,” he said.
Even Cook’s potato facts aren’t Irish: America is the fifth-largest producer of potatoes, and Colorado is the sixth-largest potato-producing state in the country, supplying almost 2.4 million pounds, mostly from the San Luis Valley.
But all those non-Irish details don’t matter in the big picture. St. Patrick’s Day foods are unique, and Cook has easy recipes for corned beef, which he uses to create Irish nachos. I highly recommend giving them a shot.
“It is classic bar fare at its best,” he said. “If you are looking for something quick, that is super filling, fun to make and won’t break the bank, this dish is it. It has all the classic Irish flavor combinations: corned beef, bacon, potatoes, cheese and horseradish.”
The brisket is rubbed with a spice mixture the night before going into a pressure cooker. Potatoes are sliced paper-thin and baked to make potato chips. Then the shredded brisket is layered over the potatoes with chopped green onions, cheddar and fried bacon. The dish is baked in a 450-degree oven until the cheese is melted and gooey. Garnish with a drizzle of spicy horseradish sauce
Cook and co-owner Cortney Smith teach a wide array of classes that sell out quickly. Visit gatherfoodstudio.com for a full list.
Contact the writer: 636-0271.