What is champ and how to make it fresh and summery

“All Hallow’s Eve is the time for young girls to think of future husbands. Favours buried in the bowl of champ, much as with the Christmas pudding reveal what fortune may be expected for the coming year. The favour might be a gold wedding ring, or it might be a twig for a wife-beater, a button for bachelorhood, a penny for a man of substance, a miniature horseshoe for luck.”

Elizabeth Luard, Still Life

What is champ? Basically it’s mashed potato plus – only instead of the plus being cabbage as in the case of colcannon, the plus in champ, which is also, not surprisingly an Irish dish, is spring onions.

This is a Saucy Dressings variation of champ which contains enough ‘healthy greens’ to mean that you don’t have to bother cooking any additional sides. The mint and the spring onions and the yoghurt give the potato a summery, zesty flavour. Infusing the milk with the peas and spring onions ensures the flavours intensify and permeate the potato.

I offer absolutely no excuses for the instant mash…. I am not going to spend my summer peeling potatoes.

This goes well with white fish and a caper, parsley, and crème fraîche sauce.

Recipe for fresh, summery champ

for three

  • 3 or 4 spring onions
  • 2 tbsp thick Greek yoghurt
  • 225g/1½ cups frozen peas
  • 3 or 4 mint leaves
  • 120g/1 cup smash instant potato
  • ½pt/285ml/1¼ cup just boiled water – but boil more, you will probably need it
  • 1 x chicken stock cube dissolved in it
  • ½pt/240ml/1 cup full (do not even think of messing around with skimmed) milk (or you can use 170g tin evaporated milk)
  • smoked salt and white pepper
  • just under a quarter of a pack of butter (40-60g)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, mashed with the smoked salt above
  1. Bring the milk to boiling point and add the peas and spring onions and simmer a couple of minutes
  2. Take off the heat and mix everything else in with a fork – heat through again if necessary. You may find it is still a bit solid, or you may prefer your mash a bit sloppier, in which case just add a bit more yoghurt – but do this right at the end when you are sure of the consistency.

“One of the saddest instructions you will ever see in a cookbook is the advice to discard all the green part of a spring oinion and use only the white. This is completely missing the point…..If you throw away the top part, how can you make Irish champ, in which mashed potatoes are enhanced with flecks of green onions and lots of butter? Except for the root and the very tips of the green, which may be tough, the whole thing is good to use.”

Bee Wilson, in The Financial Times
This post is dedicated to Karen Birch.

Music to cook to, video clip to watch

Booker T and the MGs, Green Onions

Below is a trailer for the Irish film, Matchmaker

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HBRsotXC4Ig
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