Baked Irish champ

Screenshot_20170606-135354Figured it was about darned time I did a traditional northern Irish dish on my blog, given that I’m born and bred in Northern Ireland. This dish is Irish through and through. Similar to its Irish cousin colcannon (which is made with cabbage), champ is a comforting blend of scallions/spring onions, mashed potato, cream or milk, salt and pepper and cheese, if you’re feeling saucy.

It’s one of those local dishes that everyone makes in their own way – like paella, jambalaya, gumbo, bolognese – these indigenous dishes are so intertwined with tradition that they are second nature to us to throw together and everyone does it differently.

But, not everyone knows the tricks and tips passed down from mammy to mammy and the ingredients used, so I thought I’d set out how I make my champ – which I pimp out further by baking it in a hot oven with knobs of butter to get a lovely crispy top.Screenshot_20170608-154005This is a lovely way to serve champ because you can make it a little in advance and bake it while you pull together the other elements of your dish.

So – being Irish, I have a few top tips for getting the most out of your potatoes and your mash. These aren’t essential or complicated, but they do help make your mash become more than just a side dish – but a main event.

Top 10 tattie tips
  1. The type of potato – I tend to go for a maris piper spud, as it’s a really good masher and all rounder.
  2. Try to cut your spuds evenly – this one is obv to makes sure they all cook at the same time.
  3. Salt the cooking water well – I can ALWAYS tell if the cooking water hasn’t been salted #mashgeek.
  4. I always start with boiling water – some recipes call for cold water to be brought to the boil……but really, ain’t nobody got time for that.
  5. When you drain your potatoes, let them steam dry in the pot before you start to mash – just put a clean tea towel over the pot and leave them for 5 mins or so – it makes the mash less watery.
  6. It helps to warm your milk or cream before adding to the mash – it makes it less…..I dunno……gloopy. Most times I just put the milk or cream into the hot potatoes after they’ve steamed and let it sit for a while to warm up, or you can put the potatoes and milk on a low heat for a minute if you want.
  7. If you have one, a potato ricer is a much more effective piece of kitchen equipment than a regular old masher. I have both. When I am making food for other people, I use the ricer – it yields a creamier, smoother mash……..but it is a bit of a faff, so when it’s just for us, I use a normal masher.
  8. Salt and pepper your mash really really well, it makes such a difference.
  9. DO NOT be shy with the butter – this needs no further explanation
  10. Once you are finished, take a shot of whiskey to bless your mash with the luck of the Irish (jokes, or maybe not)

Here is a little list of things I like to add to my mash to make it a little different;

  • Cheese – mature is best, but mozzarella, feta and goat’s cheese will all work wonders
  • Soft buttered leeks
  • Sundried tomatoes and parmesan (whizzed up in a blender)
  • A full head of roasted garlic
  • Pesto
  • Sour cream and crispy bacon
  • Any curry paste
  • Fresh herbs
  • Crisped chorizo
  • BBQ sauce
  • Mayonnaise, flavoured or plain

Screenshot_20170606-135317

So here is my traditional Irish mash with a little twist! Enjoy!!

Ingredients

  • 1.5kg good mashing potato – I use Maris Piper, peeled and chopped evenly into 2inch cubes
  • 150ml milk or double cream
  • 4-6 spring onions/scallions, chopped in to 1/2 inch slices
  • 75g salted butter, or more, in fact definitely more 👅👅
  • Lashings of salt and pepper

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c (fan oven).
  2. Fill and boil a kettle of water.
  3. Put the potatoes into a large pot and cover completely with the boiling water
  4. Bring to a rolling boil and simmer for 15mins until a knife goes through the potatoes easily.
  5. Meanwhile, put the milk/cream and butter and scallions into a saucepan and simmer for 5-10 mins – do not over heat this, you just want to soften the scallions, heat the milk/cream and melt the butter. Salt and pepper this well.
  6. Drain the cooked potatoes and let them steam dry for 5 or so minutes, until there is absolutely no water in the pot and the spuds look dry.
  7. Mash them well with either a normal masher or a potato ricer.
  8. Add in the warm scallion and milky mix and stir through – now it’s champ!
  9. You can serve it at this point if you wish but I like to bake mine.
  10. So, place the champ into an oven proof dish and dot the top with some more knobs of butter.
  11. Cook in the oven for around 15-20mins until the top is delightfully crisp and golden.

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