When I was growing up, I used to eat a lot of champ – an Irish dish of creamy mashed potatoes with spring onions – especially in the winter. Since moving to London, I’ve not had the opportunity to recreate the kind of nostalgic indulgence you’d expect but when I finally sat down to plan out a recipe my London Lizard Brain immediately asked me to do two things: 1. Make it using ‘fashionable ingredients’ (sweet potato/harissa) and 2. Make it into a brunch (add egg – obviously).
What began as a hankering for champ soon took a familiar turn to my spice cupboard, then the egg basket and then my frying pan got involved. The champ purists out there may think I’m sullying champ’s good name, but I don’t think I could ever apologise for the flavour of this sensational brunch. In our ongoing move towards a house that doesn’t rely so heavily on meat (slowly slowly catchy veggie), this is actually a wholly satisfying, very filling, very delicious sort of posh champ and eggs.
CB and I will be headed to Northern Ireland later this year for a friend’s wedding. So far our preparations have consisted of me sharing with CB some thoughts on what not to say e.g.:
- Wheaten bread isn’t my cup of tea
- Are we near Dublin?
- Oh you don’t have Pret here? Cute.
Serves 2, very easily scalable
400g sweet potato (skin on weight) (budget 200-250g per person)
2-4 spring onions, chopped (this is to allow for using up what you have in your fridge – 2 will do, 4 is better)
1/4 tsp each of cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne pepper and chilli flakes
1 egg (for the potatoes) + 2-4 eggs for poaching (depends on how hungry you are)
1 heaped tbsp of plain flour
150g fat free yoghurt
1 garlic clove, minced
a squeeze of lemon juice
2 tbsp of rose harissa – check the ingredients (or regular harissa + a drop of honey or agarve syrup)
50g butter/margarine/your regular spread
- Prick the potatoes and wrap your sweet potato(es) in a piece of damp kitchen paper (if you have it, I’ve forgotten it in the past and been fine). Microwave on full power for 10-15 minutes until soft. Start checking from 10 minutes.
- While that’s cooking, dole out 75g of yoghurt into each serving bowls. Whisk half a minced garlic clove and a small squeeze of lemon into each bowl. Season to taste and set aside.
- When the sweet potatoes are done, carefully slice them open lengthways and scoop out the soft innards into a medium sized bowl. At this point, you should switch on your oven on to its lowest possible setting,
- To the sweet potato bowl, add the chopped spring onions, the spices, some seasoning, the egg (beaten) and the flour. Mix thoroughly.
- Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan. Add the mixture to the pan in very heaped tablespoons so that you’re arriving at 2-3 patties person. Fry on both sides for 3-5 minutes, until browned and crisping. Put these in the warmed oven.
- Poach your eggs in your favoured fashion. I’ve recently come about the following method which has saved me on many an ocassion. Put a small square of cling film over a ramekin. If you have it, spray with calorie spray. Crack the egg into the middle of the square, so that it falls into the ramekin. Take the corners of the square and twist the whole thing up as tightly as you can, ensuring that no air is left between the egg and the bottom part of the twist. Drop this into gently simmering water and turn the heat up until it’s boiling. Cook for 3-3.5 minutes for a soft/runny egg (depending on size and temperature of your egg)
- While this is happening, take the frying pan which held the potatoes. Melt the margarine/butter and harissa together. Add a drop (really, just a drop) of agarve syrup or honey if it’s plain harissa as opposed to rose harissa.
Serve it like this – yoghurt on the bottom, then the sweet potato cakes, then the poached egg(s), then the harissa butter, flung artistically all over the bowl. It’s absolutely imperative that you eat this with a sweet breakfast juice and before you’ve changed out of your pyjamas.
Happy Fiesta Friday!