Food - Drink
Champ: The Irish Mashed Potatoes With A Potentially Painful Ingredient
Irish beers and an Irish love of potatoes may have thoroughly infused American cuisine, but when it comes to traditional Irish food, we’re woefully uninitiated. Dishes like boxty — potato pancakes that use both mashed and shredded potatoes — and carrageenan moss pudding are rarely seen on menus, along with champ, a flavorful Irish mashed-potato dish.
What is Irish Champ?
Today, champ is commonly made with mashed potatoes, green onions, and rich Irish butter, but before spring onions were incorporated, the dish used a pricklier green: Stinging nettle. Stinging nettle is a perennial plant native to Ireland, and while it leaves a blistering sting if you touch it, when cooked this plant becomes entirely different.
Champ’s Ingredients
Stinging nettle has been used in herbalism and the kitchen since the Bronze Age, and it is still used in medicinal tea and supplements today. The plant has quite a bit of protein, fiber, vitamins, iron, and calcium and when steamed, tastes quite like spinach. As for your potatoes, you’ll want to choose a starchy option like Russets.
Champ vs. Colcannon
Colcannon is another mashed potato dish that utilizes greens and butter for texture and flavor. The main difference is that while champ uses green onions — or stinging nettle — colcannon uses cabbage. Additionally, colcannon has its origins in Southern Ireland, while Champ is rooted in the North.