If you think plain mashed potatoes are good, add scallions and discover what the Irish have known for centuries. Irish champ, or mashed potatoes with scallions, is wonderful.
Although French fries is probably the most well-known potato dish in urban areas in the Philippines, I am more partial to mashed potatoes. I love the creaminess, the buttery flavor and the melt-in-the-mouth sensation, all of which can be achieved by adding butter and milk to the mashed potatoes. Sometimes, I add grated cheese too.
But, more often, I add greens — parsley, tarragon, dill, scallions… whatever’s available. Little did I know that if chopped scallions were added to the mixture of mashed potatoes, butter and milk, the Irish have a name for the dish. Champ or poundies, as the Irish call it, is a humble and inexpensive peasant dish in a country where the main agricultural produce is the potato.
If you’re a fan of mashed potatoes, trust me when I say that the addition of scallions really elevates the mashed potato experience. Visually, the green specks make the lump of pale yellow more appealing. In terms of texture, the random crunch as your teeth smash the scallion bits into smithereens provides a pleasant contrast. In terms of aroma and flavor… What can I say? Plain becomes remarkable.
Want to try making the Irish champ? it’s very easy.
Irish Champ (Poundies)
- First, rinse and scrub the potatoes well to remove any soil that may cling to the skins. Boil the uncut potatoes in their skins. Some cooks prefer to peel the potatoes prior to boiling but I find that a lot of the starch is lost that way. So, I peel them after they have been cooked. Most times, I don’t bother to peel them at all.
- Make sure that the potatoes are completely covered with water. Optionally, you may add salt.
- Cook the potatoes until very tender. To test, drive a pointed knife at the thickest part of the largest potato. If the knife goes in without any resistance, the potatoes are done.
- Drain the potatoes and peel at once. Do not wait for the potatoes to cool because you really need to mash them while still very hot. That’s the secret to cottony soft mashed potatoes.
- If you’re okay with not peeling them, skip the peeling part. But if you’d rather remove the skins, here’s the trick so as not to burn your fingers. Pick up a potato using a fork. With the fork in one hand, use the other hand to peel off the skins. They will come off easily.
- Then, throw in the butter (cut into small cubes) and mash the potatoes. The butter will melt into the potatoes.
- Add salt, pepper and finely chopped (or finely sliced) scallions. Stir.
- Pour the milk in a thin stream, lightly stirring as you pour, until you reach the consistency that you prefer.
- Adjust the seasonings and serve your Irish champ.