In the early 1990s, I tried to become a vegetarian. My motives, and there were two of them, were hardly noble. They were in order, a woman and another woman. Over the course of two years, I ended up in relationships with first a vegetarian and then a vegan (not at the same time of course). Dating a vegetarian, if you love meat, can be hell. While I empathized with my then girlfriend’s lifestyle choices, I didn’t really want to follow her path. But, like all young and foolish men, I decided that I’d rather suffer for love than be single. As time passed, I found a happy middle ground. Instead of becoming a full-fledged leaf eater, I simply abstained from eating any and all red meat. I also began to read books on animal rights, nutrition and other topics that advocated for and supported a meat-free diet. Several texts in particular, such as Diet for a New America, by John Robbins, encouraged me to stick to this diet even after my relationship with the vegetarian ended.
One year later, I found myself involved with a vegan. She was a gorgeous, slightly mad, energetic, and brilliant gal. It was, to be honest, one of the shortest relationships of my life but at the same time one of the most intense. When we parted ways, I was devastated. Strangely enough, one of my very first reactions to this break-up was to call up a buddy of mine and see if he wanted to grab breakfast. More specifically, I called up a reactionary, hippie-hating and overtly carnivorous friend and said, “Dude, C and I broke up. Wanna eat some meat?” He was, of course, only deliriously happy to join me and watch me eat the first red meat meal I’d had in over two years. We met up at a small cafe and I ordered one of my all-time favourite foods, something I had been missing and craving for years, corned beef hash.
It was delicious. But what I didn’t count on was that after a couple of years of not eating red meat, my body was a little less than prepared to process the sudden inhalation of such a delicious but unhealthy and by then unfamiliar meal. While I enjoyed every angry and self-pitying bite, my body rebelled. I got sick… “technicolor yawn” sick. Thankfully, my second carnivorous meal went better, and within a few days, I was a healthy, happy omnivore.
Corned beef hash, despite that very memorable breakfast back in 1994, remains one of my favourite breakfast dishes. It’s a wonderfully comforting dish and when prepared from scratch and served with a poached or fried egg, near unbeatable on a brunch menu. The following recipe is fantastically easy. Given that you’ve sourced good quality ingredients, it can help you prepare a really delicious corned beef hash that your friends and loved ones will love.
Corned Beef Hash
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 large onion
750g corned beef
200ml beef or veal stock
2 tablespoons creme fraiche
2 teaspoons yellow mustard
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
pinch of sugar
salt and pepper to taste
I buy my corned beef from Swiss Butchery. If you can’t find a good quality corned beef, do not substitute with the canned stuff. You could, instead, try making it yourself.
Finely dice your corned beef and your onion. Peel your potatoes and either steam or boil them until fairly firm. Then dice these too.
Heat the oil and butter in a very large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute your onions until soft. Then mix in the potatoes, beef, stock, creme fraiche, mustard, sugar and worcestershire sauce. Add pepper and salt to taste. Note that as the corned beef hash cooks, it will become a little more savoury, so go easy with the salt. Lower the heat and cover your pan. Let cook for 5 minutes, uncover, stir and cover again for another 5 minutes. Raise the heat to medium and cook uncovered until all the liquid has evaporated or has been absorbed, stirring every minute or so. Then raise the heat to medium-high and cook until crusts begin to form on the hash. Stir, frying various parts of the hash to your own preference. I like mine quite crusty.
I enjoy serving my corned beef hash over toast and topped with either a fried or poached egg.