I don’t have much experience with green beer. This despite the fact that my home state of Massachusetts is also home to many Irish-Americans who celebrate their heritage proudly. This inexperience with Irish foods also extends to soda breads, potato and cabbage dishes, and Irish stew. In fact, the only Irish food I really know about is corned beef, specifically corned beef hash, which may not in fact be properly Irish. And my experience with it is mostly second hand.
Going out to breakfast with my best friend’s family involved a lot of decision making, but it always boiled down to two things: I would order the Belgian waffles and he would order corned beef hash. The waffles were pretty much always the same but the hash was different every time. It came with onions or without, with big pieces of potato or with shreds fried up brown crispy. Some corned beef was homemade, some clearly came from a can. Sometimes we shared but more often I just stole a few bites over the course of breakfast.
These days I skip the waffles in the morning but I also generally skip the out-to-breakfast entirely. Instead, I opt for a pajama-friendly alternative which means the corned beef hash is always the way I like it. I’ll still pass on the green beer.
Corned Beef Hash
Makes 4 servings
Corned beef hash is mostly a mash up of the same ingredients – corned beef, onion, and potatoes – with maybe a few additions – peppers, sauerkraut, carrot, garlic. What makes it different is largely the texture. I like the crispiness of shredded potato with a confetti of other ingredients but cubed potatoes may be what floats your boat. Or maybe you can’t stand sauerkraut and want garlic instead. You can be your own short order cook.
Ok, so making corned beef hash at home is easy right after St. Patrick’s Day but what about the rest of the year when corned beef is solely something you can get sliced at the deli counter? Here’s a pro-tip: ask the deli guy to slice it for you 1/2 inch thick rather than in sandwich slices. Is it possible you’ll get a few weird looks? Sure, but it’s worth it.
1/2 lb corned beef, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 tbs fat (bacon fat, olive oil, butter, etc)
3/4 lb potatoes, grated*
1 onion, finely diced in 1/4 inch pieces
1 red bell pepper, finely diced in 1/4 inch pieces
1/2 cup sauerkraut (optional but I love the tangy contrast to the rich corned beef)
1 tsp kosher salt
In a large frying pan (I prefer cast iron) heat the fat over medium-high heat. When it’s hot ,add the potato gratings in an even layer and sprinkle them with salt. Wait 3 minutes before touching them again so that you can get a good crust starting. Then flip the partly browned hash over and spread it back out to brown again. Repeat this process 4 or 5 times until the hash is browned and the potato is cooked through.
Add the onion and bell pepper and stir it into the potatoes. Cook for about 5 minutes, stir, and cook another few minutes until the onion is cooked and lightly browned. Turn the heat down to medium and add the corned beef and the sauerkraut. Stir the hash to combine all the ingredients and cook it for a few minutes to heat up the meat and kraut.
At this point taste for seasoning and add a little salt if necessary. Serve the hash hot and fresh. It keeps for a few days as leftovers but it’s just not as good as fresh. If you top it with a fried egg, it’s a great meal for anytime of day.
* The problem with most graters is that the holes are too narrow so whatever you’re shredding (cheese, potatoes, etc) is a little too thin. I solved this problem (with some help from Alton Brown’s “Good Eats” by using a flat head screwdriver to open up the holes of a cheap grater so that when I use it, the potato shreds end up a little thicker and fry up with a bit more bite rather than ending up in one big mush.