In 2008, I had the displeasure of watching an entire series of Delia Smith’s new television programme, whereby the crazy old woman not only gave the viewer an insight into her wild and fun packed existence, but also showed the nation how one could create a gourmet meal with some frozen mashed potato and tinned steak. “Canned meat is going to be big” she proclaimed, possibly realising that most of her fans were daunted by the credit crunch at the time, and could only find gastronomic salvation in the tinned food aisles at Marks and Spencer. Still, in my view, her sentiment about canned meat is correct, as many of us are once again extolling the virtues of Spam and Corned Beef.
The Corned Beef Hash is a dish I hold particularly close to my heart, partly as it was a staple growing up, and has experienced something of a revival over the last few years, where every “Modern British” restaurant or cook has given it a run on their menu at some point. It’s largely considered that Thomas’s Chop House delivers the finest of Hash experiences in town, though I like to think that my variation takes it to a satisfaction level in par with that of Thomas’s own. A rasher of bacon and poached egg is an optional extra.
Ingredients (serves 2)
1 x tin of corned beef
5 medium sized Desiree (red skin) or Maris Piper potatoes
1 x onion
1 x clove of garlic
Bunch of thyme
Salt and Pepper
Flat Leaf Parsley
1) Peel your potatoes, and cut them roughly into 2cm cubes. Bring a saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil. Add your potatoes, and boil for about 7 minutes – the aim is to take away the raw edge from the spuds.
2) Gently heat a lug of olive oil in a pan. Chop the garlic, and slice your onions into half moons. Strip the fine leaves from a few sprigs of thyme, combine with the onions and garlic, and cook for about 5 minutes so the onions start to go soft, watching that the garlic doesn’t burn. Some salt and pepper at this stage goes well too.
3) Remove the onions from the pan to a small bowl, and add a small knob of butter and a little olive oil. Strain the potatoes in a colander, and add to the melted butter. Season, and cook for 10 minutes over a medium/high heat, turning occasionally as the spuds sauté and go a light golden brown.
4) Open the corned beef, and cut into cubes similar in size to how you cut the potatoes. Add to the pan, and stir in amongst the potatoes so that there is an even distribution. Cook for 3-5 minutes turning with the spuds. The idea is to allow the fat in the meat to break down and for the meat to melt into the potatoes, bringing the whole dish together.
5) Return the onion, thyme and garlic to the pan, and stir into the meat and potatoes. Cook for a couple of minutes, or until you’re satisfied that everything is cooked, and the colour is acceptable. I always aim for a darkish brown, where the corned beef has caramelised slightly and melded with the potato.
6) Roughly chop the parsley, and add to the hash immediately prior to plating up. Serve with a peppery winter salad of watercress, rocket and white cabbage if you wish, though I prefer to eat mine with some baked beans and a dollop of brown sauce!