Champ, or how to Irish up your Mashed Potatoes

Are you looking for something to jazz up your corned beef and cabbage Saint Patrick’s Day dinner or perhaps a way to liven up boring old mashed potatoes? If so, you’ve come to the right place. Let me tell you about champ. Champ is mashed potatoes infused with the flavor of green, or spring onions. It is a creamy dish with a nice oniony zip that isn’t overpowering.

When I first met my Irish mother-in-law I learned that my hubs had loved this stuff called champ as a “wee lad.”  I had never heard of it before.  She told me it was mashed potatoes with spring onions.  She said it in a “if-you-want-to-make-my-son-happy-you-make-him-champ” sort of way.  Well, I figured I could do mashed potatoes with spring onions to make him happy. I figured I could do a lot of other things too, to make him happy, but mashed potatoes was no problem at all.

But it turned out that champ wasn’t as simple as mixing some onions into mashed potatoes, although a complicated dish it is not. If you take the time to do it right you will be rewarded with a tasty side dish, one that my hubs has said rivals his mother’s! The recipe below is adapted from http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Cookbook:Champ (where I have found a whole host of Irish recipes I want to try).

Champ

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb potatoes
  • 2 oz spring onions or green onions, chopped, plus extra for garnish
  • ¼ pint milk
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • Freshly ground pepper

Procedure:

  1. Peel and boil potatoes in water until done.
  2. Pour the milk into a saucepan, add the chopped onions and simmer slowly while the potatoes cook. (This is perhaps the most important step of this recipe and ensures the flavor of the onions is infused throughout the dish. The original recipe called for cooking the onion vigorously but I think slowly simmering the onions in the milk will extract more flavor, and prevent the milk from boiling over.)
  3. When cooked, sieve the onions and set the milk aside.
  4. Drain the potatoes and mash them.
  5. Add the onions to the potatoes and mix well.
  6. Add as much of the green onion infused milk as needed to produce a consistency you like (creamy, but not too runny).
  7. Season with freshly ground pepper (and salt if desired), garnish with fresh chopped spring onion if you wish.
  8. Serve the Champ with a central well filled with melted butter.
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One Response to Champ, or how to Irish up your Mashed Potatoes

  1. Mick says:

    There’s probably many variations on this. This version sounds more like something you’d get at a hotel or restaurant (which would have been a fancy meal when we were kids).

    At home we’d just mash the spuds and mix in some chopped scallions and butter, sometimes adding milk if the spuds are dry, and salt’n’pepper to taste.

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