A Taste of Ireland

by Chef Golda Ewalt

Celebrating the Emerald Isle in food and drink…

Potatoes, one of my favorite vegetables, were discovered in Peru by the Spanish in the 1530s, and it was the Spanish who first introduced potatoes to Europe before they spread throughout the world. Potatoes were also a key driver in bringing many of our immigrant ancestors to this country.

In 1845, the potatoes in Ireland were afflicted with a water mold, destroying the crops in a prolonged devastation that lasted until 1852. About a million Irish died of starvation during the “Great Famine,” and this triggered mass migration, with many Irish immigrants coming to the United States.

Today, potatoes are the fourth-largest crop grown in the world, after corn, rice and wheat. Below you’ll find a dramatic, flaming cocktail that celebrates the Emerald Isle, as well as a traditional potato dish (with cabbage) to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and the Irish immigrants who helped build America.



5-6 medium Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1¾ pounds)
6 tablespoons butter, divided
2 to 3 leeks, white and pale-green parts only, sliced in half lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise
3 garlic cloves, minced
2½ cups shredded cabbage
2 cups milk
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 scallions, thinly sliced


  1. Cover potatoes with water in a small pot; season with salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat and simmer. Cook the potatoes until a paring knife slides easily through the potato, 30 to 35 minutes. Drain, let the potatoes cool slightly and peel.
  2. Meanwhile, melt 4 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks and cook, stirring frequently, until very soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is fragrant and leeks are just beginning to brown around the edges, about 3 minutes longer. Add the shredded cabbage and cook, stirring constantly until wilted. Add the milk and bring to a simmer.
  3. Add the cooked potatoes and coarsely mash with a potato masher. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Transfer colcannon to a large serving bowl. Top with remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and sprinkle with the sliced scallions.

Note: You can substitute half of the potatoes with parsnips. Kale or spinach can be used instead of the cabbage.

colcannonEmerald Isle

¾ ounce white rum
¾ ounce spiced rum
½ ounce orgeat
⅓ ounce fresh lemon juice
⅓ ounce fresh lime juice
⅓ ounce fresh orange juice
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 lime half, juiced, turned inside out
½ ounce green Chartreuse
Pinch of salt


  1. In a cocktail shaker, combine the rums, orgeat, citrus juices, bitters and pinch of salt. Shake well.
  2. Pour into a chilled coupe glass. Add ice and place the lime cup in the center of the cocktail. Pour the green Chartreuse into the lime cup and ignite the Chartreuse. Blow out the flame before drinking.

Note: Orgeat is an almond-flavored syrup that’s available at Friar Tuck in Peoria—or make your own using a recipe from seriouseats.com. a&s

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