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Saturday, December 20, 2008

O I Love Hash!

Anyone who watched Sesame Street In the early days (1970s PBS) will remember that each character had their own song - Kermit and "Being Green", Ernie and "Rubber Duckie" and the curmudgeonly Oscar The Grouch and "I Love Trash". To paraphrase Oscar, I Love Hash!

You can make hash out of anything - corned beef, roast beef, roast pork, ham, turkey, chicken or just vegetables even. Hash is a great way to use up leftover ingredients and have something warm and comforting to sustain you.

My mom used to make hash from the leftover roast beef that was too small to become a French dip sandwich (if there was not enough for hash, it went into a pot of soup). When mom made corned beef hash it was always for breakfast and always from a can. Roast beef hash was supper. I am not sure if dad liked or hated roast beef hash - he had a penchant for meat and potatoes but generally in their own separate and distinct places on the plate, not all mixed together, and he detested anything he called "slop".

We never had, for instance, creamed chipped beef on toast or chicken ala king - dishes my husband grew up on, loved, and craves even to this day. Unfortunately, I did not learn how to make these so they are not a part of my culinary repertoire. Consequently, he only gets them on rare occasions or when we eat at this mothers house. And since she does not generally cook this way any more, those occasions are becoming rarer and, I hope, more special.

But it seems to me roast beef and less often, turkey hash, were not so rare at home. We had roast beef quite often. Of course, it was bought on special, and keep in mind there was a lot of food in a good sized roast. Dinner for the family with leftovers for sandwiches, hash and soup at subsequent meals.

One of the best hash dishes I had was ham hash at a diner. Chunks of ham carved from the bone, potatoes and onions, crisped in the skillet or on the grill and served with the requisite ketchup. Delicious.

I make hash from anything, even leftover lunch meat. The routine is pretty much the same. Dice an onion and toss it in the pan with a little butter, olive oil or bacon grease if you have any. Dice up the leftover potatoes and other vegetables, or a raw potato if there are no leftovers. Finally, dice up the leftover meat and toss it in at the end to finish and heat through. Serve with or without a poached egg and toast and don't forget the ketchup.

If I am using a raw potato I will add it soon after the onion and cover the pan, giving it a stir every few minutes, and letting it cook about 15 minutes until the potato is cooked through. A leftover potato requires just enough time to get it hot and a little crispy before adding the meat.

Season with salt and pepper to taste and a little crushed red pepper flakes, if you like it spicy. A dash of Worcestershire or Tabasco is a good thing.

Enjoy your hash and know that meals like this can feed your soul as well as your tummy. Lets see if I can add a verse to Oscar's song - sing along with me!

I have an old skillet of leftover meat,
potatoes and onions that cannot be beat.
I'll cook it all up over plenty of heat.
I love it because it's hash!

Quotable Quotes; in the category But Gimme The Good Stuff!

"There is nothing worse for the health, or for the palate, than a poor hash, while a good hash is not only a favorite dish in most families, but an essential article of economy and convenience."

Catharine E. Beecher
'Miss Beecher’s Domestic Receipt-Book' (1846)

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