Friday, October 5, 2012

Wartime Champ

Potatoes new. Potatoes old
Potato ( in a salad ) cold
Potatoes baked or mashed or fried
Potatoes whole, potato pied
Enjoy them all including chips
Remembering spuds don't come in ships.

Thus spake Potato Pete, the Ministry of Agriculture's mascot for readily available, homegrown starchy tubers. Along with his more educated comrade, Dr Carrot, Pete was a ubiquitous presence in "Dig For Victory" propaganda, and today's recipe is just one of the many potato dishes featured prominently in wartime cookbooks. It's also an example of just how appealing plain, simple foods can be: the lion's share of this was gobbled up by the pickiest member of my household.

Champ is a traditional Irish preparation for mashed potatoes; it can still be found on restaurant menus and private tables alike, and is generally made with green onions (i.e. scallions), milk or cream, and a great deal of butter. More austere versions appeared during the war, using margarine and "household milk," and substituting shredded cabbage or carrots for the scallions. My version is virtually fat-free unless you add the margarine when serving, but it retains the scallions for that special, oniony goodness that means you won't miss a thing - even if you decide to save your rations and skip it.

Wartime Champ
~ 2 lbs. potatoes, scrubbed and diced (no peeling!)
~ 1 bunch scallions, chopped fine
~ 1-2 cups plain, unsweetened soy milk
~ 1 tsp. salt
~ Black pepper to taste
~ Margarine to serve (optional)

~ In a small pot (or in the microwave), combine the soy milk and the chopped scallions and bring to a boil. Cover and set aside to steep.
~ Boil a large pot of water and cook the potatoes for 20 minutes, until soft. Reserve a cup of the potato water and then drain. Mash with the milk/scallion mixture and the salt and pepper, adding as much of the reserved potato water as necessary to achieve a smooth, creamy texture.
~ Serve hot, with a dab of margarine added to individual servings if you like.

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