Thursday, May 23, 2013
This is the time of year that there's a lot of talk about corned beef and cabbage. The Americanized dish (in Dublin, they actually eat Irish bacon and cabbage) is one of the most popular foods of St. Patrick's Day.
Norm Hebert Jr., executive chef and co-owner of Bintliff’s in Ogunquit, tosses brisket for his corned beef hash during last week’s Incredible Breakfast Cook-Off in South Portland. Hebert’s recipe calls for “water, pickling spice and TLC,” he said.
Photos by Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer
Bintliff’s co-owner Norman Hebert Sr. plates a helping of the hash.
WE'VE GOT YOUR ST. PATTY'S GOINGS-ON
Looking for a nice pint of Guinness to wash down your corned beef hash? How about a family-friendly parade? Go to MaineToday.com for a guide to local pubs and other St. Patrick's Day happenings, and read Thursday's GO for highlights of events in southern Maine.
AUNT MO'S CORNED BEEF HASH
From Mary Paine of The Good Egg Cafe at Pepperclub
Servings: Six large
2 pounds corned beef brisket, simmered 4 to 6 hours (until beef is very tender and pulls apart with fork)
4 to 6 baked chef potatoes, completely chilled and cut into quarters
1 medium Spanish onion, peeled and quartered
1 to 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into 2-inch slices
1 cup washed flat Italian parsley
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder (not onion salt)
In a food processor, coarse chop the baked potato using very short pulses. Place in a large bowl.
Coarse chop onion and add to bowl of potato. Fine chop the carrot and add to bowl. Chop parsley and add to bowl.
Add salt, pepper and onion powder to bowl.
Hand-chop corned beef into bite-sized pieces. Add beef to bowl. Toss all ingredients to thoroughly blend. Taste for salt and pepper.
I love to use a hot cast-iron pan with a bit of canola oil. Brown hash and cook until hot.
This year, let's talk about the day after. If you make corned beef and cabbage at home on Saturday, chances are you'll have leftovers that could be made into corned beef hash for Sunday brunch.
If you prefer letting someone else do the heavy lifting, you'll find housemade corned beef hash on brunch menus all over town. Most versions come topped with a couple of poached or over-easy eggs and a side of toast. Break those yolks and let them run into the hash, and your taste buds will be in heaven savoring this delicious New England tradition.
Even so, corned beef hash is kind of like cilantro – people either love it or hate it, with not much room in between. Even in the world of people who like corned beef hash, there are vast gulfs between whose who prefer it shoveled from a can versus those who like it made from scratch and think can-eaters are full of blarney.
"Some people think that corned beef hash is the hash they get from a can that's almost like dog food or something," says Danielle Scalora, chef at Hot Suppa in Portland, home of one of the most popular corned beef hash dishes in the city. "And some people have a hankering for that, I get it. But we really try to put quality into ours."
The hash at Hot Suppa is made with shredded corned beef from Kinnealey in Boston. It includes bits of carrot and onion, larger chunks of potato and a little thyme. The meat is juicy and flavorful, and likely to turn anyone who's indifferent about the dish into a fan.
Scalora and other chefs say the secret to making good corned beef is to buy quality beef, then cook the meat low and slow. Hot Suppa then throws it on the griddle and gives it a good crispy sear.
At the Good Egg Cafe on Middle Street in Portland, the cooks still prepare Aunt Mo's Corned Beef Hash, the same hash that was served at the original Good Egg on Congress 30 years ago. (Aunt Mo, I was sorry to learn, never actually existed.)
Proprietor Mary Paine agrees that slow cooking the brisket is essential to a good corned beef, but she has another secret as well: The potatoes in her hash are baked before they are chopped up.
The Good Egg also makes a popular vegetarian hash made with marinated tempeh, spinach and broccoli. Paine says the restaurant sells almost as much vegetarian hash as the corned beef version.
At The Porthole Restaurant on Custom House Wharf, chef Paul Dyer makes hash with a plain brisket instead of meat that has been corned. He adds onions and potatoes, then flavors it with fresh thyme and garlic, a little mustard and a splash of white wine.
This flavorful hash – topped with a bit of scrambled egg at the Incredible Breakfast Cook-Off last week – was featured on the Food Network show "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives."
"Keep it simple," Dyer advises. "It really is such a simple thing, and an easy product to really bring flavor out. You don't really have to add a lot to it to get a good flavor."
Lisa Kostopoulos, owner of The Good Table in Cape Elizabeth, says her restaurant's corned beef hash "literally is just onions and potatoes." It's her dad Tony's recipe, and the corned beef is slowly boiled for four to five hours instead of roasted.
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Paul Dyer, chef at The Porthole Restaurant in Portland, served his hash with scrambled eggs at last week’s Incredible Breakfast Cook-Off.