I honestly can’t figure out how the expression “making a hash” of something, which has a negative connotation and means to mess things up, is related to that delicious solution to leftover meat (or almost any protein) — the culinary hash.
I had a sandwich at Assemble, one of three restaurants that is walking distance from my house, and the Tri-Tip in it was too rare for me. Or maybe I don’t like the taste of whatever is being fed to the trendy cows these days, because lately beef tastes odd to me. At any rate, I saved the beef — and the giant slices of red radish that they used instead of a pickle or whatever in the sandwich — and sliced them both up with some tiny potatoes that I had parboiled beforehand. I fried the whole thing up and presto — lovely hash.
I associate hash with my Dad, whose cooking philosophy was basically, “Fry it up with some potatoes.” No matter what it was. Or maybe I associate hash with him because of red flannel hash, the hash that includes a bit of cooked beet with the potatoes, beef (and typically onions — I’m just too lazy to chop onions in the morning), turning the whole thing red. He was a big wearer of flannel shirts, even in summer time.
I think hash, like my parents, is a New England thing (via Britain) and there’s no more comforting meal.
(For the record, Assemble has astonishing desserts — memorably good — and amazing pot pies on the menu. Their fries are pretty epic too.)
Standard Hash Recipe
Leftover beef, corned beef, salmon, chicken or whatever you’ve got (already cooked — the exception to this would be tofu which can cook along with the potatoes)
Potatoes, preferably Yukon gold or a small, tasty variety.
Oil or butter for frying
Onions — finely chopped (about half as much by volume as you have potato)
Parboil your potatoes which means boil them until you can pierce them easily with a fork but drain them and cool them down before they start to fall apart or the skin gets loose. Cool and cut them into bite-sized pieces.
Heat oil — or butter if you are being traditional — in a good, no-stick skillet and brown your onions, keeping the heat low so that they are allowed to caramelize. Just before all of the onions are soft and clear, add the meat and potatoes. Cook on a medium heat, avoiding stirring, to allow the potatoes to get crispy on both sides.
You can crack an egg on top at the end and let it cook on one side (also traditional) or garnish with plain yoghurt and avocado as I have.