Many people feel that the cuisine of the British Aisles is somewhat bland and lacking in character. I disagree completely. Most dishes from this region are recipes born of necessity and frugality. They use waht was available seasonally, they are prepared simply but yet all are heartwarming and filling. It’s a cooking style that I intend to persue further over the course of the next year. Perhaps I’ll help to show some of you what is, and should be, a wonderful cuisine that is perfecly suited to a family meal around the table.
Last night was a celebration of my family’s Irish heritage. This dinner, unlike most on this site was cooked from a cookbook with only slight modifications, as I have not made these dishes often enough to just throw them together as I normally would. I’m just digging in to Irish cuisine, so at least at first I’ll stick pretty tight to the recipes.
For those in the know, I’ve not served the champ in the traditional method. I wanted a one plate meal with a bit of presentation, rather than a seperate dish off to the side. If this offends, I apologize. The meal was fantastic even without the tiny soup plate of champ with it’s well of butter at the center and it added a lot to the lamb, which was fabulous along with a bite of champ and mint peas. these are good flavors and they all play well together.
I’m not really going to cover the lamb here. It was simply cooked with just salt, pepper and olive oil in a rocket-hot cast iron skillet for 5 minutes per side. While wonderful, it’s not really a recipe worth going through all the stages of. (In fact, I just gave it to you. Season, toss in hot pan and cook about 5 minutes per side. Rest. Serve.) The other dishes were really the stars here and I feel that they need the spotlight, so I’m giving it to them.
Lamb with Champ and Mint Peas
(Recipes adapted from My Irish Cookbook, by Monica Sheridan. Unfortunately no longer in print)
- 3 large potatoes, peeled and cut in 1-inch pieces
- 3 scallions, cut in fine rounds
- 3/4 cup milk
- 2 pats butter
- salt and pepper to taste
Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Add 2 good pinches salt. Place on high heat and bring to a boil. Cook until tender.
Drain potatoes and return to the pot over low heat. allow to cook, shaking pot occasionally until potatoes steam very little.
Place scallions and milk in a small saucepan over low heat. When milk is steaming hot, strain scallions and add milk to potatoes. Mash well. Add reserved scallions, butter and season to taste. Mix well.
to serve traditionally, place a good bit of champ in a soup bowl or souffle dish, make a well in the center and add a pat of butter. Serve immediately.
- 2 cups frozen peas
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1 small sprig of fresh mint
- 1 tbsp. butter
- Salt and pepper to taste
Place all ingredients in a small covered saucepan over low heat. Shake the pan occasionally so that the peas heat through but do not boil. All you want is nice warm veggies here!
What I would have done differently had I thought of it at the time:
I think perhaps I used a bit too much mint in the peas. next time I’ll back that off and skip the sugar altogether. The camp was lovely but I have to say that I prefer colcannon and will probably make that in place of champ the next time. As far as the lamb… Well, is there a better word for perfect?
Links to other recipes like this: