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Corned Beef Hash and Poached Eggs

cornedbeef

I count corned beef hash as one of the America’s greatest culinary contributions. It’s a balance of starch, protein and fat.  It’s crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. In short, the definition of deliciousness.

For many people, “corned beef hash” means a can from the supermarket shelf. While I can understand the attraction of convenience foods, you can do a lot better. Making your own corned beef hash is really simple.

The “corn” in corned beef refers to the salts used to preserve it which are supplied to the meat processor in corn kernel sized pellets. It was a method used to preserve beef in the days before refrigeration. Sailing ships carried kegs of “bully” beef, an old term for the same product, to feed their crews. These days, you can find corned beef brisket floating in a brine solution in a plastic bag at your local meat market.

I add the meat, brine and all to a pot with enough boiling water to cover the meat.  I add spices (usually peppercorns, allspice and bay leaf) to the pot, cover and simmer for about 4 hours or until it’s about 165º F on the thermometer.

The meat comes out of the broth and is allowed to cool.

Corned Beef Hash

(makes two cups finished hash)

1 cup of cooked and pulled or chopped corn beef.

1 large onion, peeled and chopped. (I prefer white onions for this dish)

1 cup of chopped potatoes.  (Try Yukon gold, but any potato will do)

unsalted butter and/or pomace oil.

salt and pepper to taste. (I like chunky salt in this dish and of course, fresh ground pepper)

Everybody has their own hash recipe.  I’m a purist and only use potatoes, onions and the corned beef. Some folks add carrots or other veggies to the recipe.  Not me.  I use equal quantities of potatoes (parboiled in water or semi-baked in the microwave) and beef, and about 1/2 as much onion as I have potatoes.

Chop everything into a size you like.  Instead of chopping the meat, you can pull it into pieces (like you would for bbq pork).  I’m fond of chunky hash and keep my pieces around a half inch or so.

To start, you heat some oil and or butter (for me: 1/2 pomace oil and 1/2 unsalted butter) in a heavy pan (I use Jane’s cast iron chicken fryer).  Add chopped onions and sweat until a bit soft.  Add the potatoes and chopped/pulled corned beef.  Mash it down and let it fry.  Some people use a ring to give the finished dish a form. Others like it a bit more rustic.

Cook over a medium fire until you hear it sizzling and smell it getting close to burning (but not too close).  Flip it over and brown the other side. I serve it with a lightly poached egg on top.  The idea is to have a mostly liquid yolk which flows into the hash. It’s a very rich dish and probably not one that you should eat too often, but well worth the effort and absolutely simple to prepare.


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