Making Hash

With hash we’re discussing leftovers, a subject you often find mentioned but rarely expounded because if we are what we eat, then our leftovers are us; what you save from a full meal and how you eat it later is as essential an indication of your moral character as the literature—if any—of your lavoratory.

In practice, leftovers rarely get anything near approaching formal treatment, particularly leftover meats, which are most often shoved between two slices of bread with a slathering of mayo (and usually little more). But in theory leftover meat can become alive again in such a way that it becomes a thing of wonder, and the foremost dish for this transformation is hash.

Chicken hash is a dish you find in upscale metropolitan social clubs, corned beef hash is a standard of diner breakfasts, but America’s staple hash is roast beef, served with or without gravy any time of the day. Beard said that in the most perfect roast beef he’d ever had—somewhere the hell in Minnesota—the meat was “perfectly cubed”, which strikes me as bizarre because my roasts are so tender that the meat shreds easily; I wouldn’t consider slicing  at all, I’d just rough it up a bit and set it aside while I browned my potatoes.

Sometimes I’ll use the leftover potatoes, but if I’m serving hash as a breakfast dish I’ll cut a fresh red potato into a small dice and cook in oil. Once the potatoes are browned and done through, I’ll throw in an onion and cook until clear; some people will throw a mild pepper in too, but I don’t belong to that school. Then add the meat with your seasonings, which should be basic; salt and pepper, paprika and a little dry mustard. Anyone who tries to gussy up hash really needs to relax.

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