Friday, March 14, 2014

Home-style Hash - a hearty, one-pot meal

There are times I would challenge myself to cook an elaborate, multi-course meal at home, and there are times I just want to do something simple. Last weekend definitely belonged to the latter category. I was late coming back from a furniture shopping trip at Horizons Plaza on Saturday (okay, I did pick up a few clothes along the way too) so I picked up just a few items from the grocery stores in the same building and did something quick and easy.

Home-style hash was probably one of the earliest things I learned to cook well, drawing inspirations from a neighborhood diner called Pete's Grille in Baltimore that I frequented in my college years. The counter-only restaurant may not be in the safest or the most pleasant area in town, but they serve kick-ass breakfasts which I still held great memories of, especially their world's best home fries. All day long the chef would leave a pile of them ready at the back burner of the grilling station, and spoon a hearty portion on the plate to whoever ordered.

The low heat, slow cooking process was the key to this heavenly fries, which was warm, well-seasoned and soft on the inside without being mushy. Coated with the oil from the bacon and sausages being cooked on the same grill, which gave the potatoes great flavors, the crust on the outside of the coarsely diced potatoes was crispy but not overly greasy. I could have had that any time, day or night.

I never looked at a recipe for this nor anyone should. It's one of those dishes everyone should just do it by heart and it's generally fail-safe (unless you somehow mixed up salt with sugar, or something to that silly extent). It's a perfect side dish for anything from breakfast to grilled steak or pork chops, or as I did last weekend, part of a one-pot lazy dinner. I put a few more ingredients into the homestyle hash to make it a more substantial meal. Make a bunch of those, and you can easily feed a village with it.

Homestyle Hash with Spam, Sausages and baked eggs

Ingredients (serves 2-4)

2 baking potatoes - skins removed and cut into coarse cubes (about 3/4 inch thick)
1 medium-sized onions - sliced
3 links of good quality sausages (andouille, Italian, or whatever you can get hold of)
7 oz can of Spam - cut into small dices
Salt and Pepper (plenty of them for seasonings)
3-4 eggs


1. Heat up the pan with a little oil in medium heat. Put the spam in and stir-fry until the meat was slightly charred. Remove the spam from the pan and set aside. Leave the oil in the pan.

2. Similarly, put the sausages in the pan, cook for 4 minutes on each side until sausages are cooked through (should be slightly burned on the outside) Remove and set aside.

3. By now the pan was left with the flavors of spam and the sausages. Put some more oil into the pan as needed, keep the pan in medium-high heat. Drop the diced potatoes into the pan, turn them around with a pair of tongs or spatula, and make sure every piece is well-coated with oil, add salt and pepper (just remember - oil, salt and potatoes are BFFs, so just add plenty, even at the risk of a heart attack later on) And if you happen to have a jar of duck fat somewhere in the fridge, this would be the perfect time to use it.

4. Cook both sides of the potatoes in medium-high heat for 4 minutes. Then turn down the heat to low setting, add the onions and cooked spam, and continue to cook for another 10-15 minutes. There's no need to flip often - just leave it in the pan, let the heat do its work and the flavors from the onion and spam released into the hash.

5. While the potato is cooking, set the oven to broiler mode and preheat to the highest setting.

6. Put the hash into an oven-proof deep dish, form a "well" with the potatoes and crack an egg in the well. Repeat for the rest of the eggs. Put the sausage - either cut into pieces or the whole link on top of the hash.

7. Put the deep dish into the oven, and broil for 5 minutes, until the eggs were slightly baked. Break the eggs and mix the hash well with the still runny egg yolks and whites. Serve by spooning a bit of everything into a plate with additional salt and pepper to season.

No comments :