Monday, March 21, 2011

Hangover breakfast.

Corned beef hash. © Ryan Schierling
We've slumbered away the hangovers of St. Patrick's Day (literal hangover... we drank a bottle of Jameson and watched Irish American Ninja) and SXSW (metaphorical hangover... we embraced the madness but actually saw little live music), and are now back to our regular chops. 

Yesterday, I dug up an old corned beef hash recipe I'd forgotten about and pulled down the cast iron skillet from the rack. 

I was never a fan of hash when I was younger, probably for the simple reason that we were never properly introducedOur family never had it when I was growing up, so I never thought to order it at restaurants or make it at home once I'd moved away. My first experience with corned beef hash – to my recollection – was in my late 20s. I purchased and opened a popular brand of canned hash the morning after a particularly libatious night out, gave a hairy eyeball to the tin and remarked how similar the texture and smell was to dog food. Not a good start, for a dish oft-described as a hangover remedy. 

I fried up the mash of miniature-diced potatoes and what I can only imagine to be mechanically-separated beef that's been corned within an inch of its life, and ate it with a pair of over-easy eggs. It wasn't bad, but it really wasn't that good either. It would be the last time I ate a plate of corned beef hash for a long, long time. 

A crazy Iron Chef-inspired dream two years ago had me waging Battle Potato the following day. Sometimes things stick with you after you wake up and you can't clear them until they've been actualized... so I'm a lucky man that Julie encourages me when I get worked up about ideas like this, even though she'll taste (but won't eat) two-thirds of these dishes, what with the meatses and all. 

I imagine other people's "significant-other / life-hostage conversations" would probably go something like this... 

"I dreamed I was on Iron Chef last night and the secret ingredient was potatoes."
"I need to go to the grocery store so I can get all the stuff to cook what I dreamed about, what I made in my dream."
"Sweetie, I love you, but that's ridiculous. We have plenty of food in the house already. You're just going to destroy the kitchen and leave a sink full of dirty dishes."
"But... but there were sweet potatoes, and leeks, and hash browns, and corned beef and... and bacon..."

I did my best to jot down the hash ingredient quantities as I was working – these are rough estimates. 

Corned beef hash 

1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced - about 2 cup
1 medium white potato, peeled and diced - about 1 cup
2 shallots, minced - 1/2 cup
1/2 green bell pepper, minced - about 1/2 cup 
1 red jalapeño, seeded and minced
6 ounces cooked corned beef brisket, chopped fine
fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped, about 2 tablespoons
olive oil
hot sauce 
salt and pepper to taste

Peel and dice the sweet potato and white potato. Cover with an inch of cold water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and let simmer for about 3 minutes, until just barely tender. Drain and set aside. Mince shallots, half a green bell pepper and 1 red jalapeño pepper (seeded). Put a skillet on medium-low heat (cast iron works fantastic for hash or home fries). Add a couple glugs of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter. Saute the shallot and peppers until soft. Add another couple tbs. of olive oil and turn the heat up just a bit. 

Add the potato mixture, the corned beef, two or three good pinches of salt, and stir with the shallots and peppers. Let the mixture sit, so there's a nice crust formed on the bottom of the potatoes, about 2-3 minutes. Break up the mixture, stirring in the chopped parsley, and let sit for another 2-3 minutes. Stir, adjust seasonings, then plate with a small fried egg on top – preferably sunny-side up or over-easy – and a drizzle of hot sauce (I used Sriracha whisked with a touch of olive oil to mellow it out a bit). 

Serves 6-8 if you use a ring mold or biscuit cutter to make it look ghetto, like in the photo – as though you plopped it straight out of a Hormel® can. Or you can just spoon as large a serving as you like on a plate and call it good. 

Chances are good that next time I make this, I'll try chorizo instead of corned beef, but this was really tasty as is.

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