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Hash it out

February 27, 2009|By LYNNE ROSSETTO KASPER / Scripps Howard News Service

Hash can be one of those great-tasting, "save the family" bits of magic done with what's on hand. Browned crispy potatoes, bits of great-tasting this and that -- hash definitely needs a comeback. Image is the problem. In coffee shops, for example, you find it done with that despicable frozen-shredded-potato-and-canned-corn-beef glop.

Good hash is all about the mix and getting it crisp by browning (a big heavy skillet is a help).

The mix is flexible, so figure that one-third to one-half of your hash should be cooked sliced or diced potatoes because they taste good on their own and they brilliantly pick up other flavors. You want half that quantity again of onions, another half again of the starch quantity in cooked or easily sauteed vegetables. Then you could have some kind of cooked meat, or poultry, or cheese. Or you could top the hash with a fried egg.

Brown the mix on top of the stove and then brown the top under the broiler. If you are using eggs, make shallow wells in the top of the crusty hash, break in the eggs and run under the broiler until the white is firm.

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This recipe is a starter. Season it as you wish, and use any mix you think you'd enjoy. Hash is an exercise in waste-not-want-not and doing it in style.

SOUTHWESTERN LIME-CHICKEN HASH



Serves 4 to 6

Any leftover meat, or sausage, could be used instead of the chicken, or skip meat entirely. If you'd like, shred cheese over the hash as it goes to the table. The melt will give a lovely, gooey topping.
1/2 to 1 pound boned, cooked chicken, cut into 1/4 inch dice
Juice of 2 limes
1 large onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Stems of 8 branches of fresh coriander, thinly sliced
Fresh coriander leaves from 8 branches
2 sweet red peppers, cut in 1/4-inch dice, or 1-1/2 cups of other vegetables
1 to 2 fresh jalapeo chilies, seeded, deveined and minced
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1/3 cup vegetable or chicken broth or water mixed with 1 tablespoon tomato paste
2-1/2 pounds boiled and chilled red-skinned potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
Canola or extra-virgin olive oil
4 large eggs

Preheat oven broiler. In a large bowl, combine the chicken and the lime juice. Let stand while you gather the rest of the ingredients. Then add the onion, coriander stems, half the coriander leaves, the peppers, garlic, tomato paste, broth or water, and the potatoes. Toss with salt and pepper.

Generously film with oil the bottom of a 12-inch skillet with an ovenproof handle. Heat over medium-high. Turn the contents of the bowl into the skillet and spread it out. Cook, adjusting heat as needed, to slowly crisp the ingredients (8 to 10 minutes). Use a spatula to turn pieces if they threaten to stick.

When vegetables are starting to brown, spread out the mix over the skillet so the bottom of the mix can crisp. Once golden brown, use the back of a tablespoon to make 4 small wells in the top of the hash. These will hold the eggs.

Slip the hash under the broiler for about 2 minutes to start it browning. Carefully remove it to a heatproof surface, break an egg into each of the wells, sprinkle with salt and pepper and broil another 1 minute, or until the egg white is firm and yolk is creamy.

Serve the hash hot, sprinkled with the rest of the fresh coriander leaves.

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