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eG Cook-Off 58: Hash


David Ross
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Welcome back to our reknowned eGullet Cook-Off Series. Our last Cook-Off, Bolognese Sauce, led to a spirited discussion over the intricacies of the beloved Italian meat sauce. Click here for the complete eG Cook-Off Index. Today we’re launching eGullet Cook-Off 58: Hash, the classic American diner dish.

Yet what appears as a humble, one-name dish is anything but ordinary. The difficulty in defining “Hash” is exactly why we’ve chosen it for a Cook-Off—simple definitions don’t apply when one considers that Hash is a dish that transcends regional and international boundaries. The ingredients one chooses to put into their version of Hash are limitless--we aren’t just talking cold meat and leftover potatoes folks.

I for one, always thought Hash came out of a can from our friends at Hormel Foods, (as in "Mary Kitchen" Corned Beef Hash). It looks like Alpo when you scoop it out of the can, but it sure fries up nice and crispy. After a few weeks of research in the kitchen, I’ve experienced a new appreciation for Hash.

So start putting together the fixins for your Hash and let’s start cooking. Hash, it’s what’s for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner.

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Several times in the past year I've wished I watched my father more closely when he made hash. All I can remember was potatoes, leftoever meat, onions and pepper, but I'm sure he never stopped there, even when he was in a hurry....but I have no idea what else went into it.

Looking forward to everyone's results.

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I love to make hash with left over pot roast. Fry some cubed potatoes, add a sliced onion when the potatoes are about 2/3rds done, add the cubed pot roast (I always use chuck), add the left over pot roast sauce, salt and pepper, top with a poached egg. Easy and delicious every time. The sauce soaks into the potatoes and gives it some extra beefiness. It's a great way to give a second life to left over pot roast.

nunc est bibendum...

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My biggest stumbling block has always been that the potatoes stick fiercely to my cast iron pan, although generally the pan is well seasoned and doesn't have a lot of other sticking issues. I'm looking forward to seeing some recipes that turns out crispy potatoes instead of a crispy pan. I have a fondness for simple hash: just potatoes, peppers of various kinds, onion, maybe a little leftover ham and always paprika, smoked or otherwise.

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My biggest stumbling block has always been that the potatoes stick fiercely to my cast iron pan, although generally the pan is well seasoned and doesn't have a lot of other sticking issues. I'm looking forward to seeing some recipes that turns out crispy potatoes instead of a crispy pan. I have a fondness for simple hash: just potatoes, peppers of various kinds, onion, maybe a little leftover ham and always paprika, smoked or otherwise.

I understand your cast-iron anxiety. I've had the same challenges frying hash in my cast iron skillet. I settled on a decent non-stick pan when I made my hash and it turned out perfectly.

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One of the things I learnt from Sara Moulton is that leftover baked potatoes make a superior hash. Bake some russett potatoes whole, let them chill in the fridge and then dice and throw in a pan, they brown up beautifully with a creamy center.

You are clairvoyant! That's exactly what I did with one of my two hash recipes. Baked Jumbo #1 Russets for 1 1/2 hours at 375. Let them chill overnight in the fridge, (don't peel). Use them in your hash the next day. The potato has a roasted flavor and it isn't gummy like boiled potatoes can be. I'll be posting more, (including photos), of what I can call a "Baked Potato Corned Beef Hash."

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Hash is a foreign thing to me but, just kicking it out there, is hash limited to beef (whether chuck or tongue or brisket or otherwise)?

I think of it as a simple formula of meat and browned potatoes (hash browns must be somehow related), but I typically do associate it with beef. Also, I always put a poached egg on mine, but I don't think that's strictly necessary. Another good idea is duck hash, with cubed duck meat or, even better, coarsely shredded confit. I suppose pork is possible, but I've never seen it and it doesn't fit my standard conception of the dish. Corned beef hash is on pretty much every diner menu too, so it's most popularly associated with the dish.

nunc est bibendum...

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Hash is a foreign thing to me but, just kicking it out there, is hash limited to beef (whether chuck or tongue or brisket or otherwise)?

I think of it as a simple formula of meat and browned potatoes (hash browns must be somehow related), but I typically do associate it with beef. Also, I always put a poached egg on mine, but I don't think that's strictly necessary. Another good idea is duck hash, with cubed duck meat or, even better, coarsely shredded confit. I suppose pork is possible, but I've never seen it and it doesn't fit my standard conception of the dish. Corned beef hash is on pretty much every diner menu too, so it's most popularly associated with the dish.

I think most of us define hash as an American dish whose primary ingredients are leftover roast beef and potatoes--a Diner Classic so to speak.

I dug into the history books and found that the word “Hash” is derived from the French word “hachis,” or “hacher,” which means to chop. Now while the French like to take the credit for nearly every great achievement in the world of culinaria, I’m suspect that they should be the only ones to take credit for creating Hash. Certainly thousands of years ago the Romans found any number of uses for left-over meat and Native South Americans were known to be the first cultivators of potatoes. Somewhere through the ages, leftover potatoes and meat formed a relationship of Hash and one of the great dishes of mankind began an ageless marriage. In Malaysia, Hash is known as “Bergedil,” and in Latin cuisine “Picadillo,” is a version of Hash.

I looked into my collection of recipes from the White House and found a recipe from 1887 during President Grover Cleveland’s administration. (Imagine Hash in the State Dining Room today). The recipe directs the cook to “moisten with beef gravy, if you have any, and cook long enough to be hot, but no longer, as much cooking toughens the meat.” (I use cooked meat that has already been tempered down to the stage of fork-tender so a long stay in the pan when I'm making Hash doesn't seem to toughen the meat).

I made two types of Hash for the Cook-off--a Prime Rib and Potato Hash that I made from a combination of recipes I pulled off the Internet--and a Corned Beef and Hash recipe from the 1976 Edition of the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook.

Chi-Chi, trendy versions of Hash are apparently the choice of Celebrity Chefs, (and Celebrity Chef wannabes). During Season 6 of “Top Chef,” Cheftestant Ron Duprat crafted a dish of “Jerk Bass with Collard Greens and Rastian Hash.” (No doubt an attempt to link the Jamaican culture with ‘hash'). His Rastian Hash is a mix of 4 varieties of potato and yucca root--nary a scrap of meat in the hash. See the recipe here .

As is his wont for creating incredibly lengthy preparations of simple dishes, Chef Thomas Keller, (Per Se and the French Laundry), gussies things up in his “Ad Hoc at Home,” cookbook with a dish of “Potato Hash with Bacon and Melted Onions.” Keller uses Yukon Gold Potatoes, (which I find too sweet and waxy for hash), and artisanal, applewood-smoked bacon from heritage-breed pigs.

But while I make fun of the Top Cheftestants and Chef Keller, I think that updated versions of Hash, like one using duck confit, could be delicious.

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In fact, David, my suggestion for a non-beef version of hash is to use duck confit: I've done it a number of times, and it is excellent.

And even better I imagine with a garnish of crispy duck cracklins!

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Looking forward to this cook-off. In the past I've played with variations on traditional hash such as using cooked cauliflower instead of potato, using smoked fish instead of meat, or finishing with a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce for that acid enhancement. An amazingly versatile dish.

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I've only made hash with corned beef, so I'm looking forward to learning about some of the variations, especially with vegetables or fish. I always thought that fish cakes were the pescetarian equivalent of hash.

Last weekend I ordered corned beef hash with my eggs at a local place during brunch. What they served looked more like "pulled" corned beef. The meat was shredded, with only a minimal amount of potato and nothing else. Quelle horreur! It didn't matter that the meat was good, as hash it was all wrong.


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Hash is a foreign thing to me but, just kicking it out there, is hash limited to beef (whether chuck or tongue or brisket or otherwise)?

Traditional Hash is usually beef or corned beef but there are as many variations as there are people who make it. One of the local restaurants here in Louisville as a trout hash on the menu. At first thought it doesn't sound that interesting but in reality it's extremely good! They use smoked trout in the preparation.

I've learned that artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

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In fact, David, my suggestion for a non-beef version of hash is to use duck confit: I've done it a number of times, and it is excellent.

And even better I imagine with a garnish of crispy duck cracklins!

I once bought twice as many duck breasts as I needed for a class (they came two whole breasts to a pack and I thought they came packed with two halves), so I ended up with lots of extra duck breasts. I repacked and froze them two halves to a bag, so when I took one bag out to defrost, I always cooked both halves. I'd take one half out very rare and then use it a couple days later for hash. The first thing I did was to cut off the fat layer and re-crisp it, both to provide fat for the potatoes and also so I'd have the cracklings to top it.

Ordinarily I don't have written recipes for dishes like this, but I wrote this up for an article on poached eggs. For a photo, click here.

1 Pekin duck breast (whole) or 1 small magret (moulard) half duck breast, cooked

1 to 2 small Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 1 cup)

Kosher salt

1 very small onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)

1/2 cup chicken or duck stock

1 tablespoon cream (optional)

1 to 2 teaspoons cider or wine vinegar

Fresh ground black pepper

Chopped chives or parsley for garnish

Place the potatoes in a small pan and cover with water. Over medium high heat, bring just to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, until almost done (potatoes should still be slightly firm in the center). Drain thoroughly and pat dry.

Meanwhile, remove the skin and fat from the duck breast and dice it. Cut the meat into 1/2-inch cubes (you should have 1 to 2 cups of meat).

In a medium skillet over medium heat, saute the diced duck skin until fat renders and the skin is very crisp. Remove the skin and reserve. You should have a thick coating of duck fat in the pan; if not, add vegetable oil to coat the pan.

Raise the heat to medium high. When the fat is hot, add the drained potatoes. Sprinkle with salt and saute for 3 to 5 minutes, until crisp and golden brown. Add the onions and cook for a couple of minutes, until they begin to color slightly. Add the duck meat and cook to heat through, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the stock to the pan and stir to dissolve the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Reduce until most of the stock is evaporated. If you like a richer, more cohesive hash, add the cream, stir and cook just until the cream is heated through and coats the hash.

Sprinkle the hash with a teaspoon of the vinegar and a couple of grinds of black pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more salt or vinegar as desired.

Divide the hash between two plates and top each with a poached egg. Sprinkle with the reserved duck cracklings and chives or parsley, if using.

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getting home after a 12 hr shift last week I wanted something fast.

I did a couple of poached eggs using maggiecats method , over hash.. All I had for meat was a prosciutto end I had bought on the weekend for $2.50. I trimmed and finely diced up a bit of that with the potato and some onion . I even minced in some black kalamatas. I was in a why not mood. seasoned with some smoked paprika , oregano and my homemade hot chile powder mix it ended up being a very satisfing if strange hash, especially with the egg yolks from the poached eggs like a sauce.

"Why is the rum always gone?"

Captain Jack Sparrow

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getting home after a 12 hr shift last week I wanted something fast.

I did a couple of poached eggs using maggiecats method , over hash.. All I had for meat was a prosciutto end I had bought on the weekend for $2.50. I trimmed and finely diced up a bit of that with the potato and some onion . I even minced in some black kalamatas. I was in a why not mood. seasoned with some smoked paprika , oregano and my homemade hot chile powder mix it ended up being a very satisfing if strange hash, especially with the egg yolks from the poached eggs like a sauce.

One of the great things about hash, other than being delicious, is that it's an incredibly cheap and easy dish to make. I like the idea of using tangy, salty olives in hash.

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My first Hash dish was based on traditional recipes and included leftover Holiday prime rib, potatoes and onions. I added some bottled gravy for moisture and seasoned the hash with rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper.

I prefer cooking with Russets in almost any dish that calls for potatoes. I suppose it's partly loyalty to the Russet since my Grandfather grew them in Eastern, Oregon, and my Mother comes from the heart of Idaho potato country. But I love the hearty potato flavor of the Russet over more sweet, sticky potatoes. I boiled the unpeeled potatoes in salted water and refrigerated them overnight. I keep the skin on the potatoes when boiling to act as a sort of blanket around the potato meat so it doesn't get to watery. Cooling the potato overnight helps the starch to calm back down and it makes the potato more solid when you dice it for the hash on day 2-

Hash Cook-Off 003.JPG

For "Hash #1," I diced the beef, potatoes and onions. I always assumed that the ingredients should be diced based on the recipes I reviewed and my memories of eating hash, but as we'll see in my second hash dish, the "cut" of the meat and potatoes has a huge impact on the texture and flavor of the finished dish-

Hash Cook-Off 010.JPG

After tossing the mix with some of the gravy, (for moisture and to act as a binder), I melted some lard into a cast iron skillet. I figured since I was doing a traditional hash dish I should use lard because that's probably the oil that cooks used years ago. In all honesty, the lard didn't add any additional flavor and butter or olive oil would have been a better choice-

Hash Cook-Off 018.JPG

I wasn't overly happy with the results of the hash using the cast iron skillet. I use this skillet for searing steaks and seafood and I assumed it would give the hash that classic crispy, golden crust. I literally ended up turning and turning the hash to get some caramelization on the potatoes. Typically I only have to saute potatoes in this pan for about 10 minutes per side to get a crust on them. I realized that the addition of the gravy was keeping the hash from getting crispy, and the large dice and skillet also contributed to my problems in getting the right "finish" on my hash. I switched to a non-stick skillet and a different cut on the meat and potatoes for "Hash #2."

Call me wacky when it comes to poaching eggs. As you can see, I use a huge 10-gallon pot. And that's to poach one egg!-

Hash Cook-Off 025.JPG

I like to use the deepest pot I can find when poaching eggs. It's like the example of an Olympic diver--to get the best chance to show your skills, (and the best poached egg), you have to start on high and dive into the deepest water you can. (If you're worried your pot of water is too shallow, your poached egg will hit the bottom of the pool and burst).

I find that eggs that are about two weeks old actually work best. I pour in about 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar to help the egg white congeal around the egg, then swirl the water with a long wooden spoon to create an eddy in the center of the pot. (This helps the egg enrobe itself when you drop it into the water). I let the egg poach for about 5 minutes for a very runny yolk-

Hash Cook-Off 028.JPG

And here's "Hash #1" with Prime Rib, Potatoes and Poached Egg-

Hash Cook-Off 032.JPG

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