Corned Beef Hash

I love Corned Beef Hash. Have you ever played the “What would you eat for your final meal” game? This is on my list.

It’s nearly impossible to go too far wrong when you combine corned beef, potatoes, carrots, onions, salt and pepper.  But a sublime Corned Beef Hash is a thing of beauty. The corned beef takes on a concentrated meaty, savoury, salty, chewy intensity that can’t be achieved without a good spell in a very hot pan with a hearty dose of butter. And oh boy, those potatoes and onions…

Potatoes are meant to have crispy bits. That is how it was written from the beginning of time. A crackling, fat-crisped exterior with little caramelized nubs of onion surrounding a soft, creamy interior is my definition of the perfect potato. Don’t think I’m forgetting the carrots.  While it might look like they’re a walk-on in this scenario, but they play a crucial role. They are the lightly sweet counterpoint to the salt and starch and meat.

There’s a psychological component to this dish that’s hard to beat. Smelling onions and carrots sweetening in butter with frying potatoes and spiced beef is my idea of transcendental meditation. My brain blanks out to everything but the sound and scent of sizzling fat lapping at the edges of diced potatoes. You can’t buy medication or drugs that do that for you. Science just can’t replicate the full-body anticipation you experience while frying up a pan of this glorious peasant food.

Like most peasant food, hash originated as a way to make use of odds and ends and bits and pieces. Waste not, want not is the sentiment that has inspired many of the world’s best dishes.  And also like most peasant food, it’s really hard to royally botch this dish.

When it comes down to it, you could just toss all the chopped ingredients into a pan and it would yield something edible. But why settle for edible when you can shoot for incredible with the same set of ingredients?  Here are some of my tips for creating the ultimate Corned Beef Hash.

  1. Pre-boil your potatoes. Don’t skip this step! Boiling your potatoes lightly ahead of time helps you achieve that dreamed-of soft center and crisp outside. Skins on or off is up to personal preference completely. For myself, the only time I remove the skins in this dish is if they’re a little on the green side.
  2. Press the hash down in the pan with a sturdy spatula or spoon. This increases the amount of potato/carrot/corned beef surface area that comes into contact with the super hot pan. This ensures a high ratio of my favorite part of hash: the crispy bits.
  3. Don’t stir the cooking hash. I know. It’s like scratching an itch. You want to stir things. I want to stir things, but avoid the temptation. Remember that letting it sit there squashed against the hot pan equals crunchy goodness. You’ll be turning it every so often, but stirring is out!
  4. Potatoes love black pepper. Don’t skimp on the black pepper or your hash will be sad and so will you.
  5. Potatoes also love salt.  But exercise a little caution on this front. Corned beef is salty. You salt the cooking water for the potatoes.  You add a little salt to the onions and carrots to help get them cooking. You may want to soft-shoe the addition of salt to the actual hash because the flavors (and saltiness) will continue to concentrate until the whole thing is done cooking. Don’t worry. You can always salt it at the plate.
  6. Make more than you think you’ll need. Leftover hash stores in the refrigerator or freezer and reheats beautifully. I almost always wish I had made more.

Corned Beef Hash

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Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2-3 cups leftover fully cooked corned beef brisket, depending on how much you have and how much you want in the finished product
  • 8 largish Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and peeled if preferred
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 1 large carrot, scrubbed and peeled if preferred
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) butter, plus extra if needed
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Optional for serving:

  • Stir-fried kimchi
  • Fried eggs
  • Hot sauce

Place a large pot of water over high heat and allow it to come to a boil while preparing other ingredients.

Place a large, heavy, well-seasoned cast-iron skillet over low heat and allow the butter to melt slowly in it while you dice your onions. You want the pieces of onion to be no larger than 1/4″.  Lob the root end off of the carrot. Slice it in half crosswise, then lengthwise. Lay the carrot quarters cut sides down on your cutting board and slice into 1/4″ thick strips lengthwise. Turn the strips perpendicular to your knife and chop roughly into 1/4″ cubes. When the butter is fully melted, add the carrots and onions to the pan, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, then stir.

Raise the heat to medium low and let cook while dealing with the potatoes then corned beef, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. The carrots and onions should cook for about 8-10 minutes.

To dice the potatoes, first slice them in half lengthwise. Lay, cut side down, on the cutting board and cut into 1/4″ thick ‘cards’.  Lay a stack of the potato ‘cards’ on the cutting board, cut sides down, and slice into 1/4″ strips.  Turn the strips perpendicular to your knife and chop roughly into 1/4″ cubes. Don’t sweat this too much, you just want pieces that are approximately the same size so they cook in about the same amount of time.

Salt the now boiling water with a hearty pinch of kosher salt and carefully add the diced potatoes. Return to a simmer. The potatoes should be mostly tender within 3-5 minutes. Do not cook them until they’re mushy. Drain and set aside.

To dice the corned beef, cut across the grain into 1/4″ thick slices.  Stack the slices and cut into 1/4″ strips. Turn the strips perpendicular to your knife and chop roughly into 1/4″ cubes.

By this time, your carrots and onions should have softened and the onions should be beginning to turn golden around the edges (at the 8-10 minute mark.) Turn the heat to medium. Add the boiled potatoes and diced corned beef to the pan and toss to evenly distribute the onions, carrot, potatoes, corned beef and fat. If it looks dry, you can add a little more butter or canola oil. Use a sturdy metal spatula or wooden spoon to press the mixture down toward the bottom of the pan. This promotes more caramelized bits and goodies. Grind black pepper over the mixture, to taste. Since I’m flush with attractive young men at my house, I had one of them do it for me.

Do not stir at this point!

If you hear sizzling and popping you are on the right track. If you don’t hear it, raise the heat a bit and see if that sets the sizzling in motion.  If you still don’t hear good things happening, add a bit more fat (either butter or canola oil), and that should do it.  After about 5-8 minutes, when things start smelling toasty, slide a metal spatula under the hash and lift a bit to examine the progress.  If it is starting to get golden brown bits, use your spatula to slide underneath and flip over the hash in sections. Don’t stir it, or you’ll break up all those lovely crisp parts. Press the hash down again to bring more surface area in contact with the pan. This is how you achieve the best coloring and texture on the hash.  Cook for about 5 minutes, then lift and flip sections again.  Carry on doing this until you get the degree of caramelization you prefer. When it is the color you desire, remove the pan from the heat. Beware. If you let one of those good-looking people hanging around your house wield the pepper grinder, they may feel entitled to snitch from the pan. Happens all the time around here…

Cast-iron retains heat, so if you do not want it to cook any further, you should transfer it to a serving dish immediately.

Serve hot.

I prefer mine with stir-fried kimchi and a fried egg on top, but most of my kids love it straight up with hot sauce.

Leftovers can be stored in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator and reheated in a skillet or in the microwave.

Corned Beef Hash
Author: 
Recipe type: main, breakfast, dinner
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
When corned beef hash is done right, you get concentrated meaty, savoury, salty, chewy intensity that can’t be achieved without a very hot pan and butter.
Ingredients
  • 1½-3 cups leftover fully cooked corned beef brisket, depending on how much you have and how much you want in the finished product
  • 8 largish Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and peeled if preferred
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 1 large carrot, scrubbed and peeled if preferred
  • ½ cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) butter, plus extra if needed
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Optional for serving:
  • Stir-fried kimchi
  • Fried eggs
  • Hot sauce
Instructions
  1. Place a large pot of water over high heat and allow it to come to a boil while preparing other ingredients.
  2. Place a heavy, well-seasoned cast-iron skillet over low heat and allow the butter to melt slowly in it while you dice your onions. You want the pieces of onion to be no larger than ¼”. Lob the root end off of the carrot. Slice it in half crosswise, then lengthwise. Lay the carrot quarters cut sides down on your cutting board and slice into ¼” thick strips lengthwise. Turn the strips perpendicular to your knife and chop roughly into ¼” cubes. When the butter is fully melted, add the carrots and onions to the pan, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, then stir. Raise the heat to medium low and let cook while dealing with the potatoes then corned beef, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. The carrots and onions should cook for about 8-10 minutes.
  3. To dice the potatoes, first slice them in half lengthwise. Lay, cut side down, on the cutting board and cut into ¼” thick ‘cards’. Lay a stack of the potato ‘cards’ on the cutting board, cut sides down, and slice into ¼” strips. Turn the strips perpendicular to your knife and chop roughly into ¼” cubes.
  4. Salt the now boiling water with a hearty pinch of kosher salt and carefully add the diced potatoes. Return to a simmer. The potatoes should be mostly tender within 3-5 minutes. Do not cook them until they’re mushy. Drain and set aside.
  5. To dice the corned beef, cut across the grain into ¼” thick slices. Stack the slices and cut into ¼” strips. Turn the strips perpendicular to your knife and chop roughly into ¼” cubes.
  6. By this time, your carrots and onions should have softened and the onions should be beginning to turn golden around the edges (at the 8-10 minute mark.) Turn the heat to medium. Add the boiled potatoes and diced corned beef to the pan and toss to evenly distribute the onions, carrot, potatoes, corned beef and fat. If it looks dry, you can add a little more butter or canola oil. Use a sturdy metal spatula or wooden spoon to press the mixture down toward the bottom of the pan. This promotes more caramelized bits and goodies. Grind black pepper over the mixture, to taste.
  7. Do not stir at this point!
  8. If you hear sizzling and popping you are on the right track. If you don’t hear it, raise the heat a bit and see if that sets the sizzling in motion. If you still don’t hear good things happening, add a bit more fat (either butter or canola oil), and that should do it. After about 5-8 minutes, when things start smelling toasty, slide a metal spatula under the hash and lift a bit to examine the progress. If it is starting to get golden brown bits, use your spatula to slide underneath and flip over the hash in sections. Don’t stir it, or you’ll break up all those lovely crisp parts. Press the hash down again to bring more surface area in contact with the pan. This is how you achieve the best coloring and texture on the hash. Cook for about 5 minutes, then lift and flip sections again. Carry on doing this until you get the degree of caramelization you prefer. When it is the color you desire, remove the pan from the heat. Cast-iron retains heat, so if you do not want it to cook any further, you should transfer it to a serving dish immediately.
  9. Serve hot.
  10. I prefer mine with stir-fried kimchi and a fried egg on top, but most of my kids love it straight up with hot sauce. Leftovers can be stored in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator and reheated in a skillet or in the microwave.

 

Comments

  1. I LOVE corned beef hash! LOVE IT!! This looks amazing!

  2. this week… you will make my husband very happy.

  3. I love corned beef hash too. Delicious!

  4. These recipe looks AMAZING. I’m such a fan of corned beef hash but sometimes get skeeved out by the canned versions. How can you not love corned beef hash? It’s the perfect blend of meat and potatoes. Awesome breakfast food.

  5. I’m ashamed to say, I’ve never tried to make corned beef hash. I make hash all the time when we have left over roast but never with corned beef. Depressing isn’t it?! This is probably a really dumb question, but do you make your own corned beef brisket? If so, could you guide me to it? Thanks!

  6. My mom always poured a sploosh of milk in the bottom of the skillet to help (as I now know) with the Maillard reaction and to form a crisp crust. Try it some time – it’s fabulous.

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