Corned beef hash with a kick – a great supper dish!

28 Mar

My first taste of corned beef hash was made by my Aunty Bella.  She would be the first to admit that cooking is not her forte, but it tasted delicious, even though it looked a bit off-putting as all the ingredients were mushed together. I made it like this for years, and even packed it into a pie crust to make hash pie.  I have to say that the pastry did make it look more presentable.  Over the years I suppose I have picked up more cooking techniques.  It is true what they say, practice does make perfect although I am a long way from this Utopia at the moment.  The hash I make today is a far cry from my earlier attempts.  Each element of the dish is defined, the potatoes have a crisp outside but are tender and fluffy in the middle, there is an addition of heat from the chopped chillies and the parsley adds a freshness that lifts the dish into a new dimension.

It was interesting to read why the term ‘corned’ was used for this type of beef.  The term “Corned” comes from putting meat in a large crock and covering it with large rock-salt kernels of salt that were refered to as “corns of salt” This preserved the meat. The term Corned has been in the Oxford English Dictionary as early as 888 AD.   Salting meat goes back probably to ancient times in cold areas when they found that meat didn’t spoil if it made contact with enough salt.  This was a boon for soldiers and was actually the mainstay for British Soldiers in the Boer War and World War 1.

I was under the impression that corned beef came from Argentina and Uruguay.  I suppose that is down to Fray Bentos!  It is true that todays supplies come from these countries but, it appears that the origin of corned beef is Ireland.  In the 17th Century Ireland was, in fact, the first Country to make Corned Beef instigated by restrictions on exporting live cattle under the Cattle Acts of 1663 and 1667.  The Irish did not actually et Corned Beef themselves but exported it, canned, in large quantities to England.  The English called it Bully Beef and was the best source of beef during food rationing during the war.  It was the Irish immigrants to America that made the dish ‘Corned Beef and Cabbage’ popular in the US.  This is still eaten in huge quantities on the 17th March, St Patrick’s Day.

Well, here is the recipe.  I serve mine with a fried egg.  Makes a great brunch the morning after the night before, if you know what I mean!

Corned Beef Hash with a kick                 Serves 4

  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1kg / 2 ibs waxy potatoes (eg Charlotte), diced into small pieces
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 x 340g can Corned Beef, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 red chilli, seeded and thinly sliced
  • handful of chopped fresh parsley leaves
  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat and fry the potatoes, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes or until they are starting to turn colour.  Add the onion and continue to cook for 10 more minutes until the onion is soft and the potatoes are golden.
  2. Add the chilli and corned beef carefully stir together, then cook for 6 minutes until the hash is starting to go crispy in places.  Stir in the parsley and season with salt and black pepper.
  3. Serve hot, topped with a fried egg.

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