While researching and thinking about Irish recipes to make this month I made a long list of possibilities, of traditional Irish dishes as well as some of American-Irish dishes. Many of the recipes looked to me like they would be really good enjoyed together. And that is how this dish came to be.
Colcannon is one of the traditional Irish recipes I had on my list. It dates back to the 1700’s and the name is derived from the Gaelic words for “white-headed cabbage”. Though Americans may associate colcannon with St. Patrick’s Day, in Ireland it is actually a dish made at Halloween-time. The tradition of eating colcannon on Halloween includes hiding charms in it: coins for children, or a ring to predict marriage for the single woman who finds it on her plate.
Colcannon is made from potatoes mashed with cabbage or kale, and some recipes also call for leeks, green onions, and meats. In the simplest form, just mashed potatoes with cabbage it is a delicious comfort food!
The steak and stout half of my recipe came from the idea of a steak and stout pie: a hand-pie or family sized pie filled with tender beef in a sauce made with a stout beer like Guinness Extra Dark. It’s hearty like a beef stew but without the veggies, and the robust flavor all from the stout.
This is more of an American-Irish dish, since traditional Irish recipes relied more on lamb, mutton, and pork than on beef.
Instead of sticking my steak and stout in a pie shell, I figured it would be delicious spooned over some colcannon. And folks in this house seem to agree! The chunks of stew beef get a long simmer in a slow cooker or crock pot, and the liquid includes plenty of Guinness, stock, and seasonings.
The colcannon comes together in the last hour of cooking time for the beef. Instead of boiling the potatoes and cabbage I roast them side-by-side to give them extra flavor.
And I refrained from adding trinkets to the colcannon.
Once we spooned the Steak & Stout over the top, we found we were gobbling it up fast, frighteningly fast actually because it is so savory and satisfying. No good would come of charms in the mash here!
Slow Cooker Steak & Stout over Colcannon
For the Steak and Stout:
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 pounds stew beef, like chuck or round, cubed
- 2 12-ounce bottles Guinness Extra Stout Beer
- 1/2 cup beef stock
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
For the Colcannon:
- 3 pounds yellow potatoes
- 1/2 head green cabbage
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 4 tablespoons butter, unsalted, cut into small pieces
- 1/2 cup milk or half and half
- 2 scallions, tops and ends removed, chopped
Prepare the steak and stout:
- Have ready a slow cooker. Place 1 tablespoon of the olive oil into the bottom of the slow cooker and spread to coat the bottom. Add in the stew beef. Pour the Guinness beer and the stock over the beef. Stir the minced garlic, thyme, brown sugar, the 2 teaspoons of salt and the 1 teaspoon of black pepper. Cover the slow cooker and set the heat to low. Cook the beef mixture for about 7 hours until the beef is very tender.
About 1 hour before the beef is finished cooking, prepare the colcannon:
- Preheat the oven to 400° F. Line a large baking sheet with foil or with parchment paper.
- Cut the green cabbage into strips and place them on half of the baking sheet. Pour some of the remaining olive oil over the cabbage and stir to coat the pieces with oil. Scrub and peel the potatoes, and cut them into chunks about 1-1/2 inches big. Place the cut potatoes on the other half of the baking sheet. Pour the rest of the olive oil over the potatoes and toss them in the oil. Sprinkle the 1 teaspoon of salt and the 1/2 teaspoon black pepper over the potatoes and cabbage. Place the baking sheet in the oven to roast them both until they are tender: about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the oven.
- Scoop the potatoes into a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and milk or half and half to the warm potatoes, and stir them in. Mash the potatoes until they are relatively smooth – add in a little more milk if the potatoes seem dry. Once they’re mashed scoop the roasted cabbage off the baking sheet and add them to the potatoes. Mix the cabbage throughout the mashed potatoes.
- Put a serving of colcannon, about 1-1/2 cups into the center of each dinner plate. Sprinkle a few pieces of chopped scallion over the colcannon. Divide the beef evenly and spoon it over the top of the colcannon on each plate, adding a few spoonfuls of the cooking liquid. Serve immediately!