Champ

Buttery champ, the ultimate comfort food.

Northern Ireland has many unique dishes like potato bread, soda farls, fifteens etc. The place has world class scenery and is luscious and green, but that’s mainly because it rains pretty much every day. We have numerous types of rain that range from soft pillowy drizzle, to sideways stingy rain that feels like someone is pinging your face with rubber bands.

Because of our unique weather system, we love carb heavy comfort food. The king of comfort foods is champ. Champ is basically mashed potatoes with milk made smooth and velvety by milk infused with with scallions (spring onions). Traditionally it’s served in a big mound with a well in the middle where you melt a knob of butter. I’ve heard of a few tweaks, like beating a raw egg into the potatoes and most families will make it how their Mum taught them. This is how my Mum made it. I love this just on its own, but champ and sausage is a really popular family dinner. There is basically nothing this doesn’t go with. In a lot of recipes fancy chefs tell people not to use the green part of the scallion. Champ is peasant food, so nothing is wasted. The green part of the onion is what gives the champ the distinctive green flecks.

Allow the milk to infuse with the taste of the scallions.

Ingredients

1Kg Potatoes (pick a floury variety rather than waxy potatoes)

1 Bunch of scallions (spring onions)

250 ml milk

Salt and pepper

Butter

Method

  1. Peel the potatoes and cut into equal sized chunks
  2. Put in a large pot of cold water and salt. Bring to the boil and simmer until the potatoes are soft
  3. Trim the tops and ends of the scallions, cut into 1cm slices and add to a pot along with the milk. Heat on a low heat for 5- 10 minutes (do not allow to boil)
  4. Mash the cooked potatoes. Gradually stir in the milk and scallions until you get a consistency you’re happy with
  5. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper if it needs it. Spoon a mound of the champ onto a plate and make well in the centre and add a knob of butter which will then melt into a gorgeous pool of golden deliciousness

French Onion Roast Potatoes

Roast potatoes topped with sweet caramelised onions and melted cheese.

Good roast potatoes are one of life’s simple pleasures. But it is possible to improve on perfection. This is a recipe that I used to make when I student and constantly broke. It’s made from simple cheap ingredients, and tastes fantastic.

Straight out of the oven.

You can eat it as a side dish, but I’m more than happy to eat a big bowl of it just on its own. You can also make this with mashed potatoes and it’s still a totally amazing comfort food, but do yourself a favour and try it with roast potatoes.

Onions caramelised, cooked low and slow.

Ingredients

1Kg Potatoes (Scrubbed with skins left on)

4-5 Large onions (Chopped)

2 Tbsp Oil

25 Grams Butter

Salt and pepper

100 Grams Cheddar Cheese (Grated), you can also use any cheese you find in the fridge.

Cover with grated cheese, before popping in the oven.

Method

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees. Cut the potatoes into 3-4 cm cubes, and toss with 1 Tbsp of oil and spread across a baking tray. Bake for 30 minutes (or until soft)
  2. Cut the onions, I don’t cut them too finely. Heat the remaining oil and butter to a large frying pan. Add the onions and fry over a medium heat, stirring occasionally for 30-40 minutes until dark brown (not burnt) and caramalised
  3. Spread the onions over the potatoes, and then cover with the grated cheese. Return to the oven, and bake for 15 minutes until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly

Greek Lemon Roast Potatoes

Crispy, herby deliciousness

OMG I love a spud (maybe it’s my Irish DNA). Just when I thought roast potatoes were practically perfect in every way. I discovered these.

Potatoes roasted with garlic and herbs in olive oil and lemon juice, are little flavour bombs. I could eat a bowl of these on their own. However, they’re also fantastic with chicken or fish. I have also been known to fry up left over ones (the only reason there were left overs was because I was physically incapable of eating any more) the next day and topping with a fried egg, yum!

Ingredients

750 Grams Potatoes

1 Lemon (juice only)

50ml Olive oil

1 Tsp Dried thyme

1 Tsp Dried oregano

1 Bulb of garlic

Salt

Par boiled potatoes, ready for the oven

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees
  2. Peel the potatoes, and cut into 3-4 cm chunks. Par bowl in salted water for 5 minutes
  3. Put an oven proof dish in the oven
  4. In a bowl, add the oil, herbs and lemon juice. Cut the bulb of garlic into four
  5. Drain the potatoes, add the garlic, and oil mixture then transfer to the preheated dish
  6. Put in the oven and bake for about 1 hour, mixing roughly every 20 minutes, until golden and crispy

Potato, Sausage, and Apple Skillet

I love a quick dinner after a long day when standing cooking holds little appeal. If you can be organised enough to cook extra potatoes for dinner the day or two before this makes this even quicker.

My sort of comfort food

Nothing says comfort food to me like spuds. Crispy fried potatoes, meaty pork sausages and hot sweet apples makes a really dreamy combination. On a chilly Autumn evening this makes a perfect dinner, it’s also really good with fried egg on top.

Serves 4

Ingredients

500 Grams Cooked potatoes cut into chunks (I like to leave the skins on)

8 Pork sausages (cut into chunks)

2 Red onions (thinly sliced)

2 Dessert apples (cut into chunks)

2 Tbsps Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet or heavy frying pan
  2. Add the cut up sausages and onions, and stir occasionally until browned
  3. Remove from the pan and set to one side. Add the other tablespoon of oil to the pan and add the potatoes, cooking until brown
  4. Add the sausages, onions, and apple to the pan, cook for another 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and if you’re feeling really fancy you could sprinkle over some chopped herbs like parsley, or sage