Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Saturday Hash

This has become a weekly staple in our house on Saturday mornings. Since Pancakes are the staple for Sunday mornings, that means I'm going to have to start breaking traditions if I want to do new things, but that's a discussion for another day. Typically, a skillet full of hash browns will last us for most of the weekend. 

The great thing about this recipe is that the process is very forgiving. No worry, no hurry. So, on Saturdays, when I stumble, bleary-eyed into the kitchen, this is how I start the day.

Step One: Cast iron skillet. Put it on the stove to pre-heat. 

Step one and a half. Start making coffee.

Step Two: Bacon. I grab hunks from the TJ's ends and trimmings package, and start cutting. Big chunks of fat go right into the pan to grease it up a little bit for cooking. Dark meaty parts get sliced up into bits to be fried and eaten. The big chunks of fat will get removed before any other ingredients get added to the pan, so the overall fat content is lowered, but it definitely adds flavor and that wonderful fatty bacon smell.

I've also used pre-sliced pepperoni, and I have no doubt that thin sliced kielbasa would be another good substitute for bacon. (And now that I've considered this, it will have to happen soon.)

Step Three: Onion. While the bacon is cooking, chop up an onion or two. Remove  the big chunks of bacon fat from the pan, and dump the onions on top of the bacon. Don't stir just yet, let that bacon stay sizzling on the pan. Crispy bacon is good.

Step three and a half: get some coffee, if you haven't already. Good hash browns take time, and Saturday is supposed to be relaxing.

Step Four: Potatoes. While the onion is sizzling away, chop up a few (3-4) Yukon Gold potatoes (Or baby reds, or whatever.) into 1/4-3/8" cubes.  Size of cube counts... smaller pieces cook more easily, and larger ones end up with a half-cooked texture. Stir the potatoes into the onion/ bacon mix.

Step Five: Seasoning. I've been using a combination of Thyme, Oregano, and a salt-free Chili/ BBQ blend from Penzey's, called Arizona Dreaming. I leave all of this on top of the hash, and sprinkle a little bit of water over everything. The steam seems to help re-hydrate the seasoning, and add more flavor.

Step Six: Black beans. I'm lazy, I buy canned beans. If you're a dry-bean person, I guess you should set them out to soak the night before. I rinse them off in the steamer basket, and stir them into the mix. 

As things continue to cook, sprinkle a little bit of water over everything once in a while. It will help loosen up anything that's sticking to the bottom of the pan. Use a metal spatula (as you should, with cast iron) to scrape up that starchy goodness and stir it back into the hash. Keeping all that gunk from burning on to the pan will make cleanup a lot easier later on. And since most of whatever is sticking is made up of starch, onions, bacon, or spices, you're basically stirring a lot of flavor back into the hash where it belongs. 

Continue to take your time. Have some coffee, get some plates out, pre-heat another pan for some eggs, whatever. Hash takes time, and Saturdays should be relaxing. Have some more coffee while that one sinks in.

Once everything is cooked, put the burner on low, and scramble up some eggs, or fix whatever else is going to be part of breakfast for the morning. 


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