Thursday, February 24, 2011

On Corned Beef Hash, Redux

Yes, that is a beer cap. We "splurged" and bought some Killians' Red. Now back to Miller High Life, baby.
Since we are watching every penny (no, for real this time), and since we are carpooling, and since I never seem to start dinner until 6:30, and since the Pizza Wagon folks have been MIA every night which means I cannot give them the last $15 in ones and nickels scrounged from the bottom of my purse, I've been having trouble coming up with interesting dinners. I've been using eggs a lot, since they're an easy source of protein. In fact, that's part of the problem with coming up with interesting meals this week. I just don't have enough protein in my chill chest.

Okay, okay. Are we done with the "that's what she said" jokes?

Anyways, according to my freezer inventory list, I have two frozen chickens, a threefer beef brisket, a marinated tri-tip, and a fajita-seasoned piece of flank steak. I could totally defrost a 4-pound chicken and spatchcock it before 8, right?

Other than having cookies for dinner, which this week I am completely at peace with, breakfast foods have seemed to be the easiest to make. They're easy to make in that the procedures are pretty well laid out. And BORING. So I compromised with myself and tried to make my old standby, Corned Beef Hash, even better.

First, the potatoes. I have about a dozen that are starting to sprout. There is something worth saying foochebag-wise about what this does to the taste and texture of a potato. But we are officially to the point where wasting food means not paying a utility bill. Thus, a return to the good ol' Frugal Gourmet tips is necessary and prudent, like prepping food on the weekends and (the easiest method) using it up before it sprouts. But for the record, I've used sprouted potatoes for mashed potatoes and hash and never had a problem with the taste.

This time, I soothed the cooking soul by dicing the potatoes myself and discovered something important: the potato pieces don't have to be that close in size to each other. By the time you parboil it and brown it as hash it all gets cooked nicely anyways. Just chop chop chop and be at peace with it.

To keep with the "make it more interesting" theme, I parboiled the potato pieces in nice, salty water (again with the jokes??), a clove of garlic, halved, and a half a teaspoon of dried thyme.

Not surprisingly, seasoning the water with more than just salt meant that the potatoes had a very nice background flavor. This is one of those D'oh! moments, when you actually try something you've always known you should be doing but for some self-sabotaging reason you never got around to it. Like when you make cookies, there is a reason you add the eggs one at a time, beating well between additions ("It's an emulsion, dummy.") Incidentally, I do wish I'd brought some cookies for lunch.

I seasoned the potatoes with a dash of smoked paprika and black pepper, then fried them in a little reserved bacon fat for more flavor, turning and browning and turning and browning. Add a few tablespoons of canned corned beef (save the proper stuff for a reuben for God's sake), turn and brown. When I couldn't stand to wait any longer, I made some indentations in the hash and cracked an egg into them. Salt and pepper the egg, add grated cheddar cheese around it (or lay that down before you crack the egg; it just depends on if you want your egg mixed into the hash below or in its own little cheesy boat). Then carefully transfer your blazing hot cast iron pan under the broiler until the eggs are set.

In case you're wondering, "until the eggs are set" is harder than it sounds. Properly cooking an egg on top of hash under the broiler takes practice. Here's how it goes: not done, not done, not done, not done, not done, HARD YOLK. The above egg went from see-through to overdone in about 30 seconds. Keep your eye on it! Now, a hard yolk isn't bad eating, but a runny one is so delicious that it's worth trying for every time. Serve with ketchup, Sriacha, Cholua, and sour cream.

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