CHAMP (mashed potatoes with scallions, for four)

“Champ is Irish. There are many regional names for champ – bruisy, cally, goody and pandy are some of them. There are also many stories surrounding the dish because it was prepared specially for Hallowe’en. It was customary to offer champ to the fairies then. A bowl would be left out under a hawthorn bush on Hallowe’en or All Souls Night.” Sarah Edington, Complete Traditional Recipe Book, The National Trust

2 pounds russet potatoes, scrubbed, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces (russet, or baking potatoes, make fluffier mashed potatoes. Yukon golds have a buttery texture, and are also a possibility)

4 tablespoons (½ stick, ¼ cup) unsalted butter, melted

½ cup half-and-half, warmed (more to taste)

½ cup thinly sliced scallions

½ teaspoon salt

freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Place potatoes in a large saucepan with cold, salted water to cover by about an inch (1 tablespoon salt for every 4 quarts of water). Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until the potatoes are just tender when pricked with a thin-bladed knife, about 20 minutes. Drain potatoes in a colander.

2. Drop the peeled potato chunks back into the empty, but still warm, saucepan and mash with a potato masher until fairly smooth.

3. Stir in the butter with a wooden spoon until incorporated. Gently stir in the half-and-half, scallion, salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

adapted from The Best of Gourmet, volume VI

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