The cupboards are nearly empty after my boyfriend’s two week absence. The only remaining vegetable is a sweet potato; add to that two eggs. That means a late brunch; sweet potato hash with a soft boiled egg on top. The sweet potato was chopped into small-fry shapes with the mandoline, seasoned with Tony’s, cumin, and achiote powder, and then tossed around a pan until soft. The peeled egg, broken open, sits on top.
If you have a mandoline to do your chopping, a hash is a simple meal, but more importantly, one of those simple meals that are so filling you can feel as if you’ve gorged yourself. It seems extravagant, not like an empty cupboard ploy to get breakfast on the table. What’s more, you can use all of the scraps, the little bit of peels that would look ugly in other dishes. Hopefully you didn’t throw them away and instead have those bits stored in your fridge. Hashes never look ugly, only rustic.
If hashes are not yet part of your life, here’s how to make a hash out of anything.
Well, not quite anything. First off, what is good in a hash?
Onions, leeks, garlic, ramps and all other alliums
Peppers (all kinds!)
Turnips, carrots… ok any root vegetable
Greens (if they have most of the moisture pressed from them)
Precooked beans– kidney beans especially. Like the greens, make sure they are dry.
OK, I lied, maybe anything really can go into a hash.
I looked at Wikipedia to find a convenient definition of a hash, and there’s not one that is consistent across all regions. For my purposes, I am going to refer to a breakfast brunch dish that refers back to the word’s root, the French hacher, to chop. It is a collection of vegetables (and meat, if you roll that way) roughly chopped and cooked on a grill or in a pan until soft in some parts, crispy in some parts, and delicious all around.
Here’s how to do it:
Shred or dice any large vegetables, such as root vegetables.
Dice your alliums and peppers and chop any herbs that you are using.
Put about a tablespoon of vegetable oil in your skillet or griddle. Once it’s warm enough to make a drop of water sizzle, add your alliums and peppers and sauté until brown.
Add the longest cooking items next, usually root vegetables. Season with salt and pepper and seasonings (I like cumin and cayenne with sweet potatoes, rosemary and thyme for regular potatoes, sage for squash). Cook, stirring occasionally until tender all of the way through. (Check the thickest piece, not an average sized or scrawny piece). How much you stir will change the overall texture. I personally like some pieces that are bordering on burnt, and thus crisp, mixed with other pieces that are just cooked through and soft. You might want it more consistently tender or consistently crispy.
Add in any short cooking vegetables, like greens, peas, or pre-cooked beans, as well as any fresh herbs that you are using. Cook until just tender and warmed through. Serve, topping with a soft boiled egg, scoop of sour cream, or whatever else you’d like.