Miss Florence Irwin
“Miss Florence Irwin is engaged in a crusade which more justly than most crusades, may be called holy: she is attempting to restore taste to the human palate which is steadily being vitiated by incompetent cooks and the manufacturers of synthetic foods…” St John Irvine.
Perhaps the most popular potato dish [in Ulster] is champ. It is a favourite Friday dish for those who keep Lent, and a popular summer dish with all old–fashioned folk.
Champ is composed of peeled potatoes freshly boiled and drained, then pounded with a beetle. While pounding, a vegetable and the milk in which it is boiled are pounded in at the same time.
In a farm–house 2 stones [12 kg] or more of potatoes were peeled and boiled for the dinner. Then the man of the house was summoned when all was ready, and while he pounded this enormous pot of potatoes with a sturdy wooden beetle his wife added the potful of milk and nettles, or scallions [spring onions] or chives or parsley, and he beetled till it was as smooth as butter, not a lump anywhere.
Everyone got large plateful, made a hole in the centre, and into this put a large lump of butter. Then the champ was eaten from the outside with a spoon or fork, dipping it into the melted butter in the centre. All was washed down with new milk or freshly churned buttermilk.
The main thing about champ is it must be kept very hot while being made and served on very hot plates, and accompanied with good butter.
The following recipe is reduced in quantity to suit small households
9 medium–sized ‘floury’ potatoes – 800g
Quality is important. No amount of cooking will make a soapy potato nice.
½ teacupful chopped chives
550 ml new milk
Pepper and salt
Peel the potatoes and boil in salted water till tender
While boiling wash and chop the chives in ¼ inch lengths.
Boil 20 minutes in the milk before pounding it into the champ.
On chives …
Every old fashioned garden had its row of chives, which just grew there from year to year. This ensured green onion during the winter for broth and champ. It is one of the most delicately flavoured onions we have. No matter how small a garden a corner should still be found for a clump of chives.
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