Champ, one of Ireland’s most delicious side dishes, is made with potatoes, scallions, chives, butter and milk. It is traditionally served with a deep well of butter in the center for dipping each spoonful or bite. Now I’m sure a few of you out there are saying, “Hey…isn’t that just mashed potatoes?”
That is kind of what I thought until I tasted for the first time. Champ has a truly unique taste which comes from the scallions and scallion simmered milk used in the recipe. Plus I like that the Irish aren’t shy about using butter and each spoonful of Champ is served fully immersed in it. Yum!
This dish is quite simple and inexpensive to make, but you will find it oh so tasty, filling and comforting. It goes along wonderfully with any beef, lamb or pork dish, although I know I would be quite happy to make a meal of it, all on its own. It was a common Irish folk custom to leave a bowl of Champ for the fairies under Hawthorn trees on All Hallow’s Eve (Samhain – October 31st). I’m sure those lucky fairies are delighted with the gift wherever it is still given.
Champ (Brúitín in Irish)
recipe adapted from: The Complete Irish Pub Cookbook
- 2 lbs. potatoes – starchy potatoes like russets or Yukon gold, peeled and cut into even chunks
- 20 scallions, chopped
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1/4 cup chives, snipped
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- black pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) Irish salted butter, melted and hot
Add the potatoes to a large saucepan of salted boiling water, cover, bring back to a boil, and simmer gently for 20 minutes, until tender. Drain well and put back in the pan. Cover with a clean dish towel for a few minutes to get rid of excess moisture.
While the potatoes are cooking, put the chopped scallions in a saucepan with the milk. Simmer for 5 minutes (do not boil), then drain, reserving the milk and scallions separately.
Mash the potatoes until smooth, stirring in enough of the reserved milk to produce a creamy consistency. Stir in the scallions and chives. Season to taste with sea salt flakes and black pepper.
Transfer the potato mixture to a warm serving dish. Make a well in the center of the potatoes and pour in the hot, melted butter.
To serve, spoon potatoes from the outside, dipping each spoonful into the well of melted butter before plating.