Champ (Irish Potatoes)

ChampThe Irish Table
My friends, we are knee deep in March, which apparently means rain, basketball, and that day of green, otherwise known as St. Patrick’s Day.

For the record, I’m not really a beer kind of gal—though I did have a pint of Guinness at St. James Gate in Dublin years ago. Best pint I’ve ever had before or since. My guess is it was because I was in Dublin. Other than that, I just can’t do it, green or not. Which is why when I celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, I do it with food. (Imagine that…)

Nothing is more synonymous with Ireland than potatoes. The tragic history of Ireland and the potato is a major reason that we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in America. If not for the famine, we wouldn’t have as many Irish on this side of the pond. (I know, thanks, Captain Obvious…)

Potatoes have always been a friend of mine. I like ‘em mashed. I like ‘em baked. I love ‘em scalloped and I love ‘em French fried. Turns out, I like ‘em Champed too. Champ is a simple Irish peasant dish consisting of pouring scallion-infused, warm milk over mashed potatoes and served with a large dollop of butter melting on top. The butter is essential because Champ is supposed to be eaten from the outside with a spoon, dipping it into the butter in the center. Can I get an Amen?

I had Champ for the first time on the same Ireland trip I mentioned before. While it may not be the national dish of Ireland it is certainly top five. No matter where we went to eat, I ordered some on the side with my meal—I couldn’t get enough of it. It helped that there were so many different versions of the dish, each with a new ingredient to add. Though the original remains my favorite, Champ and Crispy Onions is probably a close second.

Champ (Irish Potatoes)
Adapted from Irish Traditional Cooking By Darina Allen
Serves 4

6 to 8 unpeeled large Red potatoes
1 bunch green onions, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups milk
4-8 Tablespoons butter

Scrub the potatoes well and boil them until tender.

Place the chopped scallions and the milk in a small pot and bring slowly to a boil. Simmer for about 3 to 4 minutes, then turn off the heat and leave to infuse.

Peel and mash the freshly boiled potatoes and, while hot, mix with the boiling milk and scallions. Beat in some of the butter. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Serve in individual bowls with, a knob of butter melting in the center.

Champ may be put aside and reheated, covered with foil, in a moderate oven at 350°F.

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