- chopped food; specifically: chopped meat mixed with potatoes and browned
- pound sign
OK, so what's not to love about hash? Seriously, the definition is "chopped food." Love it! Talk about versatility! And anytime I get to combine a pun with my love of hashtagging, oh now that's a good day my friends.
I never follow a recipe. Not because I can't, but because it's more fun to experiment with flavors and piece something fun together. And when the product is as loosely defined as "chopped food," why use a recipe?
My basic rule of thumb when cooking this way is keep it simple. I like complicated food, it's interesting, but simple food is comforting. It allows us to showcase ingredients and really taste everything that's going on. I generally keep to a 5-ingredient rule when cooking this way (no more than 5 ingredients, salt/pepper/oil don't count).
I seriously, seriously recommend the Flavor Bible. This will help you piece together your own mental-map of flavors that work together, compliment each other, bring out something new and exciting in the dish. Until you build your own map, utilize this as a resource. It'll help you learn. I like the Vegetarian Flavor Bible because I find it to be a little more in-depth than the Flavor Bible, however if cook primarily with proteins the Flavor Bible may be a better beginner start for you. I have a copy on my kindle, which makes searching easy.
OK, so back to hash. The other great thing about hash is it allows you to utilize leftovers really well (because almost anything that you put together for dinner will taste good with an egg on it), and no matter what season it is, you're going to be able to showcase seasonal food and make a great dish.
Leftovers of any kind generally make great breakfast, however I would avoid any leftover that is saucy as this will change the texture of the hash. If you want a shashuka-type hash, a saucy leftover would be more ideal.
One more thing: when putting ingredients together, think outside the box! After all, chiliqueles are similar to a hash, with tortilla chips as the base. Leftover polenta? Put an egg on it and call it a hash! Leftover cassoulet, oh yeah we're definitely putting an egg on that.
To meat or not to meat?
Well, that's not really a question for me: I'm an omnivore, I eat everything, and I love me some bacon. That being said, I've made plenty of really delicious hashes that are just a pile of vegetables with egg on it, so if you don't have meat on hand or you don't eat meat, don't worry about it too much.
A note about potatoes:
Don't think you have to have potatoes to make it a hash. I've made some great hashes with russet, red, yukon, and sweet potatoes, but I've also made some great ones without. The thing that a potato will bring to the dish is texture and crunch. If going no-potato, sometimes I try to consider a replacement with a firm texture (such as cauliflower or broccoli), but softer vegetables like zucchini or mushrooms work just as well. And You can always serve with a side of toast to add in some crunch.
Veggies, veggies, and more veggies!
Whether I'm going meat or no meat, potatoes or no, I love me some vegetables. I always try to throw something in there, depending on the season. Tomatoes, zucchini, corn, or peppers in the summer; chanterelle mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, or pumpkins in the fall; winter squash, root vegetables, or hearty greens in the winter; peas, asparagus, or radishes in the spring. No matter the season, a leafy green like kale or chard are great additions to hash, not only for color contrasts but they bring all them good-for-you vitamins.
I would like all the cheese, please.
I like a cheese on top, but it can easily be done no-cheese and taste just as good. Think about the flavors you want to be putting together - a cotija for a mexican-style hash with sausage, peppers and jalapenos; a nice chevre for a garden-style spinach and cherry tomatoes; a manchego for a sweet potato and cauliflower; cream cheese for anything with salmon (and let's add a salsa verde on there too - yum!). I'm getting carried away but flavor profiling, you know, it gets me going.
How would you like your eggs, sir?
Let's have some fun. Over medium eggs if I'm feeling like practicing my egg-flipping skills, plus sometimes nothing beats a warm, runny egg on top of your perfectly assembled hash. Sunnyside-up if I want to snap an amazing pic. Crispy-fried if I want to egg the egg like a steak. Scrambled if I'm feeling the fluff. Baked if I'm making a hash for a crowd. And hard boiled if I have some leftover in the fridge. I generally don't make a poached egg, partly because I'm lazy and partly because I'm not a huge fan. Why go through the effort of the poached egg when so many other egg cooking methods yield just as delicious eggs? Unless, of course, you're making a sous-vide poached egg to go on top of ramen. More on that in another post...
Some of my personal favorites
- Bacon, potato, corn, red onion, jalapeno, cotija cheese. It tastes like summer, it feels like summer, it's like Mexican street corn for breakfast.
- Pastrami, sweet potato, cauliflower, kale, spicy hot peppers, manchego. It's reminisicent of a pastrami sandwich, if that pastrami sandwich was sweet, spicy, earthy, and it was socially acceptable to eat it for breakfast (who am I kidding, I've done that before!).
- Smoked fish (salmon, trout, whatcha got?), boiled potatoes (soft, not crunch for this one), shaved brussels sprouts, red onion, Italian-style salsa verde. It's like German-style potato salad and breakfast had a beautiful baby, and we named it YumYum.
- Chorizo, crispy potatoes, smoked cheddar, fresh cilantro, baked eggs. The soft texture of these eggs meets the spicy sausage, crisp bite of the potato, the smoky cheese, and the fresh herbs - oh yeah, this one comes together.
So, now that you're nice and hungry, what kind of hash are you going to make today?