Traditional Irish Champ

Tuesday 2 March 2021

Easy traditional Irish Champ is the perfect recipe to enjoy during the month of March when we will be celebrating the wearing of the green, Saint Patrick's Day! The Irish love their potatoes and there is no end to the ways they love to enjoy them. 

Champ and Colcannon are two of the most favourite ways and are both very similar. Champ is a potato/spring onion dish, whereas Colcannon has cooked cabbage in it as well as the onions. I love, LOVE them both!

I have seen Champ done with sauteed leeks and spring onions, but this version of Champ I am sharing today uses only spring onions (scallions.)  It is delicious either way.

Oddly enough, in the old days, champ used to be made with stinging nettles. They were a plant which grew abundantly in most places and which was free for the picking. Make sure you wear gloves if you do try to pick and use them because they do sting and will blister your skin and hands.

Normally Dock leaves grown near nettles, so you can swipe one of those over the sting to take it away. Interestingly enough when nettles are cooked, this removes the sting, so there is no worry with eating them.

This begs an answer to the question . . . Just who was it that decided that something which stung the skin could be safely eaten???  Yes . . .  I do have a curious mind.

Over the years, Spring Onions, or scallions as they are also known, have become the standard to use in the making of champ. I just think it is a fabulously tasty dish.  We really do love it!

Everyone in my immediate family has had our DNA done now and we have discovered a healthy amount of Irish DNA in our family tree (with the exception of our dad who is 91% French). This gives us all the more reason to celebrate our Irish roots this year!

Mashed potatoes with warm milk, spring onions and butter beaten into them.  It's so tasty.   The Irish know how to do potatoes and do them well!

You can use leftover boiled potatoes to make this quite easily. Just reheat the potatoes in an amount of whole milk. Once heated through, mash and add the remaining ingredients. Easy Peasy.

Today I started from scratch. 

For this you will want to use a floury type of potato, like a Russet or Maris Piper, King Edward. You do NOT want a new potato or waxy potato. They do NOT mash well. Trust me on this.

Once you have the right kind of potato, everything else is a doddle. Simply peel the potatoes, cut into chunks, and cook them in some lightly salted boiling water. 

You will need to cook them until they are fork tender, but not falling apart in the water. Take care not to overcook them. It should take roughly 15 - 20 minutes depending on the size of your potato chunks.

Once they are cooked you will need to drain them very well and then return them to the pot.  I like to let them sit in the heat of the pot over the residual heat of the burner to finish drying them out, with a clean tea towel thrown over top of the pan. 

This allows the steam to be released without it being dropped back into the pan, whilst still keeping he potatoes heated.

I always warm the milk when I am doing mash of any kind.  It doesn't take long to do it in the microwave. Just heat it on high for about a  minute.  I add the spring onions to the milk before heating it.

This helps to take any sharp flavour away from the onion and makes them just right for stirring into the mashed potatoes.  It also helps to infuse the flavor of the onion into the milk beautifully. A quantity of butter is also stirred in, plus some salt and pepper. You can use white or black pepper.

The Irish used to serve this in a big bowl, hot from the stove. 

A big knob of butter would be melting into the middle of it so that the family could dip their pieces of bread into the butter and scoop up some potatoes to eat with it at the same time.   

It sounds all warm and cosy to me, although nowadays with Covid, perhaps not a wise thing to do.

I tend to serve it as a side dish these days.  It goes with just about everything.  Lamb is especially nice.  Grilled Chops, or some roasted lamb would be lovely.

Today we had it with grilled and glazed bangers/sausages. If you can get real Irish ones so much the better!! 

In working with the green theme, I served some steamed green beans on the side.  It was a really lovely meal. Really lovely.

I will always regret that during my stay in the UK, I never did get to visit Ireland, and it was so close too. I have heard that it is a beautiful country with too many shades of green in its landscape to count.

The closest I ever got was enjoying the company of a few Irishmen on the train back from London one time. Those Irish sure have the gift of the gab, especially when they've been enjoying  a Guinness or two or three.  Very pleasant folk to be sure!

Irish Champ

Irish Champ
Yield: 4
Author: Marie Rayner
prep time: 5 Mincook time: 25 Mintotal time: 30 Min
An old Irish Dish, consisting of fluffy white mashed potatoes infused with plenty of butter, milk and spring onions.


  • 1 kg (2 1/4 pounds) floury potatoes, peeled and halved
  • 225ml whole milk (1 cup)
  • 1 bunch spring onions, thinly sliced (6 to 8 scallions)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 50g (2 ounces) butter
  • a knob of butter to serve


  1. Place the potatoes into a large pot and fill with enough cold water to cover. Lightly salt the water, bring to the boil and cook until fork tender, about 20 minutes.
  2. Drain the tender potatoes well. Return them to the pot and shake over the residual heat of the burner to dry them out. Place a clean tea towel over top to absorbe any access moisture.
  3. Place the milk into a large glass measuring cup along with the spring onions. Heat gently in the microwave for about 1 minute.
  4. Mash the potatoes well with the butter until smooth. Stir in the milk and spring onions to combine well together. Season with salt and white pepper.
  5. Pile into a bowl and top with a knob of butter. Serve immediately.
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Traditional Irish Champ

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1 comment

  1. Good comfort food and it is still really cold here, but the sun is out and thatbrings a smile to my face.


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