In spite of being incessantly reminded by WBLM’s “The Captain and Celeste” that we really should be heading down to Gritty McDuff’s in the Old Port, to enter for a chance to win tickets to see the Dropkick Murphys in Boston (which they called “Ground Zero for St. Patties Day”), we decided to stay home. I have about as much fondness for green beer as I do for getting punched in the mouth by a belligerent Southie, so for us, St. Patrick’s Day has traditionally been more about a quiet pint of Guinness and some traditional cooking, than it has been about wearing a novelty kilt and throwing up in a city trash can in broad daylight.
But, aye, me Culchies, if it isn’t a gorgeous day today! We’ve got the windows open, the official start of Spring is just three days away, and thoughts of “Winter” food are quickly leaving us. We didn’t want to do a Guinness stew, a Sheppard’s Pie, a big boiled dinner, or any of the slow-cooked, quasi-novelty “Irish” classics. Taking inspiration from midtown NYC’s legendary “Blarney Stone,” who knows that there’s nothing better for a belly about to absorb fifty beers than a boiled potato, we’re keeping things simple, with our recipe for Champ and Bangers. Champ (also called “Poundies”) is traditional Irish peasant food, and is a simple, flavorful combination of coarsely mashed potatoes, scallions that have been boiled in milk, and tons of butter. Served up with a couple of mild, simply grilled sausages (ours were the “Schlitz and Onion,” from the consistently excellent Fresh Approach, here in the West End), a plate of these potatoes should provide a substantial, absorbent base for receiving a liter of Jameson.
Here’s to women’s kisses, and to whiskey, amber clear; not as sweet as a woman’s kiss, but a damn sight more sincere!
Champ and Bangers
- 4 unpeeled baking potatoes, washed and quartered
- 1 bunch scallions, diced
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 6 tablespoons butter
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 8 mild pork sausages, such as British Bangers
Put potatoes in a large pot of water. Bring to a boil and cook until fork tender, about 30-40 minutes. Put chopped scallions in a small saucepan, and add milk. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for four minutes. While potatoes finish cooking, grill sausages in medium frying pan until cooked through, about 10 minutes per side. Transfer potatoes to large bowl, and coarsely mash, mixing in hot milk with scallions and butter. Beat until mixed, and potatoes become fluffy. Season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle on chopped parsley. To serve, pile potatoes onto plate in a volcano shape, and put a well in the top. Add a splash of milk and more butter to the well, and serve immediately with sausages.