Irish Chef Cooking “Green” in Downtown Atlanta

Each March, as St. Patrick’s Day approaches, there seems to be intense focus on Irish cuisine. Chef Thomas McKeown, executive chef of downtown’s Hyatt Regency Atlanta, has taken some of his favorite recipes from his home country and added a Southern flair using sustainably-grown ingredients. He has prepared a special menu for diners looking for an authentic St. Patrick’s Day experience.

While Chef McKeown was born and trained in Ireland, his love for all things green goes beyond his Irish roots. He is dedicated to serving local, healthy and responsibly raised ingredients. He has started Community Supported Agriculture Programs (CSA) in Atlanta, spends his free time at the Peachtree Road Farmers Market and serves on the Advisory Board to Southeastern Sustainable Livestock Coalition (SSLC) which promotes the importance of supporting humane and sustainable farming in the Southeast.

Chef McKeown shared one of his favorite “green” recipes. Colcannon is a healthy dish that has a long history in Irish culture including several songs that have been written about it. Interestingly, colcannon (which sounds even better in an Irish brogue) is usually served on Halloween which in Ireland is also known as “Colcannon Night.”

Colcannon with Bangers and Mustard Sauce
2 pounds fresh Irish Bangers (about 8 pork sausages)
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled & diced
4 tbsp. butter, diced
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups baby kale (collards, cabbage or chard may be substituted)
1/2 cup bacon, cooked and chopped
2 teaspoons grainy mustard
Chopped parsley for serving

Preheat oven to 450° F. Heat large pan with medium heat. Coat pan with oil. Once oil is hot, add sausages and sear on both sides until golden brown. Finish in the oven for 10 -12 minutes. Chef McKeown recommends supporting great local butchers like Pine Street Market who use sustainably farmed meats in their products.

Meanwhile, place potatoes in large saucepan with 1 tablespoon of salt and enough water to cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 - 25 minutes. Drain potatoes in colander and return to saucepan. Cover for 5 minutes.

Add butter, ½ cup of the heavy cream, milk, and a 1 tablespoon of salt and pepper. Beat the potatoes in the pan with masher until smooth and creamy. Once creamy, fold in the bacon and kale. The greens will wilt from the heat of the potatoes, cooking them perfectly. If you can’t find baby kale, you can use greens that have been lightly blanched in their place. Adjust seasoning accordingly.

Drain excess sausage fat and place the pan over medium heat. Add the remaining 1/2 cup heavy cream and reduce heat, whisk in mustard. Stir until fully combined and thick then remove from heat and prepare to serve. Mound a generous portion of potatoes on plate and top with sausages. Spoon mustard sauce over and sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley.

For those of you who have no interest in cooking on St. Patrick’s Day, head over to Sway Restaurant at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta and let Chef McKeown satisfy your Irish cravings with his Southern Colcannon and Pine Street Market Bangers, Skillet Baked Irish Soda Bread with Kerrygold butter, and Beer Battered Shrimp with Spicy Aioli.