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Don’t Cry For Me



Not only is champ a classic Irish potato dish, it also, colourwise, just looks downright patriotic – so it seems like just the thing for Paddy’s Day.

A simple milky potato mash mixed with spring onions and topped with melted butter, the recipe here pretty much reflects the formula for champ as included in Monica Sheridan’s wonderful book The Art of Irish Cooking – my secondhand copy of which was originally published in 1965. For those who have never heard of her, Monica Sheridan was our original TV chef and a wonderful writer to boot – the book is a classic.

Interestingly, she titles the recipe “Champ (for children)“, though I think adults are just as entitled to enjoy this. And because I think that champ love should be shared as widely as possible, I’m sending this over to Joanne of Eats Well With Others [1] for what I’m sure will be a mouth-watering Irish edition of Regional Recipes [2].

You’ll need:
  • 800g potatoes (4 medium specimens), preferably a floury variety
  • 300ml milk
  • 6 spring onions, white and green parts finely sliced
  • 1 tsp fine salt or to taste, plus more for boiling the potatoes
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Butter to serve
You’ll also need:
  • As always when it comes to mash, a potato ricer is the tool of choice, but it’s not mash-threatening if you don’t have one.
The Steps:
  • Peel your potatoes and cut into roughly even-sized slices, around 1-2cm thick. Rinse them under cold water.
  • Bring about 1.5l of water to the boil in a saucepan, add about 2 tsp salt and the potato slices. Bring back to the boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer gently, covered, for around 15-20 minutes or until just fork-tender.
  • When the potatoes are done, drain well and return them to the saucepan. Then either let them sit, covered by a tea-towel, for about 5 minutes or place the pan over a low heat and stir the potatoes gently for a minute or so while they dry out.
  • Put the cooked and still warm potatoes through a potato ricer if you have one, or mash with a potato masher or, if all else fails, a fork.
  • Pour some boiling water over the sliced spring onions to scald them (and preserve their bright green colour) and drain well.
  • Add the spring onions to the milk and bring to the boil in a small heavy saucepan. Then remove from the heat and mix into the potatoes, giving a mash with a fairly loose consistency. Add salt and black pepper to taste.
  • While still hot, place a mound of mash on a soup plate, make a little crater in the top, drop in a teaspoon or so of butter – more if you like – then scoop up some mash, dip into the melting butter and enjoy.
The Variations:
  • It’s a fairly basic mash, so of course you could add mustard, parsley, bits of bacon or whatever else takes your fancy. It is just rather lovely as it is, though.
The Results:
  • This amount should serve 4 to 6 people of either the child or adult variety.