Saturday, December 12, 2009

Hashing it out

Corned beef hash is great any time of day.

It’s a tasty lunch, a satisfying dinner, even a welcome late night diner munchie after an evening out with friends. (The stories I could tell you about 2 a.m. runs to Denny's...)

But there’s no time like breakfast for hash, particularly when you’ve got a big day that requires some serious carbing up.

And yet, unless you follow "hash" with "browns," a kid can look at you like you are speaking Cantonese when you talk about corned beef. What is that? Beef covered with corn? Is it cooked with corn? Vegetables? Are you giving me pot roast for breakfast? What are you talking about?

For the record, corned beef owes its name to the process that separates it from the same cut of brisket that spends hours in a slow smoker. The meat is basically pickled in a brine, like, oh, a pickle. The "corn" refers to the kernels of salt that draw out the juices and let the flavorful, seasoning sink back in, turning ordinary beeef into something extra special.

And "hash?" Well, that generally means a mixed up concoction. When you mix up chopped up corned beef with the mealy deliciousness of cooked potatoes, you temper the saltiness of the meat, and let the potatoes mellow into a creamy backdrop.

Paired with eggs and cheese, it’s the perfect topping for a morning pizza on a busy day.

1 pre-baked pizza crust

1 ½ c. corned beef hash (canned or leftover)

4 eggs, scrambled or hard-boiled, or 8 eggs, poached

1 c. shredded cheddar cheese


Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place pizza crust on baking sheet. Spread with hash. Bake 10 minutes, or until heated through.

If you are using scrambled or hard-boiled eggs, arrange over hash layer and top with cheese. Bake 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Top with parsley and season to taste. Slice and serve.

If you are using poached eggs, skip the egg layer until after the pizza is sliced. Top each piece with a poached egg. (This is definitely a sit-down version. Drippy egg yolks make for unforgiving on-the-run meals.)

EXTRA EXTRA!!! Her Royal Hashiness – Don’t turn up your nose at corned beef hash just because it is the original leftover dish for yesterday’s meat and potatoes. Not only did Queen Elizabeth II and her sister, Princess Margaret, have a special dish just for their hash (they called it "hoosh-mi") as kids, now she frequently enjoys shepherd’s pie, a hash variation, to use up her Sunday roast at the palace.

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