Corned Beef Hash 2.0

The best thing about St Patrick's Day, also known as "Use Another Minor Foreign Holiday as an Excuse to get Drunk and Act Like an Idiot Day", is that corned beef brisket goes on sale. And the best thing about corned beef brisket going on sale is leftover corned beef the next morning. And the best thing about left over corned beef the next morning, is corned beef hash.

So here's my most latest revised version of the classic hash.

2 cups Russet potato, diced small
1/2 cup onion minced
6 oz corned beef diced small
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1 dash worstershire
1/4 cup chicken stock
Fresh ground pepper

Heat butter on medium heat in large heavy skillet. Add diced potatoes and pan fry for a few minutes turning occassionally. When the potatoes are slightly brown turn down heat to medium low and add the onions and toss until fully incorporated with the potato.

When the onions are translucent but not browned add the corned beef, garlic powder, paprika, worstershire, and chicken stock and mix together thoroughly. Cook for about 15 to 20 minutes turning occassionally. Add salt and pepper to taste.

A couple minutes before plating, flatten the mixture with the back of a spatula and turn back up to medium heat to crisp up the bottom of the hash.

Plate with egg of choice.

Serves two.

Crisper Drawer Hash

One thing hash of all kinds excel at is lowering your kitchen food costs by cleaning out your pantry and refrigerator. This is your basic, "let's see what's left in the crisper drawer" variety hash so of course the list of ingredients will vary on what vegetables are available.

1 Russett potato cut into 1/2 cubes
1/2 onion, sliced
1 handful asparagus, chopped large
1/4 red pepper, diced
1 carrot julienned
1 clove garlic, minced
1 large handful spinach, saute'd
3 eggs
1/2 cup cheddar
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

Heat a large skillet with olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan on medium high heat. When hot add the potatos. While turning every couple minutes cook for about 5 minutes and add the onion. After another 5 minutes or so add the red pepper and asparagus. After another 5 add the carrot and the garlic. Salt & pepper. Turn down the heat to medium.

Heat a medium non-stick skillet on medium heat and add a pat of butter. When the butter starts to froth add the handful of spinach and saute until wilted and transfer to the large skillet. This will keep the spinach from introducing a bunch of moisture to your hash and make it soggy. Now you can wipe out the non-stick with a paper towel and add another pat and scramble the eggs. When the eggs just set add those and the cheddar to the large skillet, turn off the heat and toss the hash to combine.

Serves two hungry or four not so hungry people.

Grandma's Fried Potatos

The maker of the best fried potatoes in the universe (and fried chicken, and home made bread, and triple decker BTLs and fried ocra and...) passed away yesterday at age 91. Nothing beats the memory of waking up on a summer Western Colorado morning to a plate full of these golden beauties with a couple fried eggs and toast of home-made bread.

I've been working to make my own potatoes equal my memory of these potatoes for decades. You can substitute different oils for the bacon grease but for the authentic version, nothing beats, good ol' artery hardenin' bacon fat.

3 medium red potatoes
1 tsp sugar
1 cup bacon grease

Wash and peal the potatoes. The trick to these potatoes are to cut the potatoes in polygonal slices. Simply hold the peeled potato in one hand and with a paring knife, slice strait across the curved surface of the potatoes, working around the surface as you go. Try to aim for about a quarter of an inch thick in the middle or slightly more. The shape of the potato pieces are what gives the crunchy on the ends and soft in the middle quality.

In a bowl, toss the potato slices with sugar and a healthy pinch of salt.

Heat up the bacon grease in a deep skillet on medium-high heat. For some reason I find a deep heavy stainless skillet works better than my trusty cast iron. Grandma used aluminum, but given the health problems associated with aluminum cookware I suggest stainless and the high temperature required for these potatoes is too much for non-stick.

When the bacon grease is hot, carefully add the potatoes into the hot grease. Level the potatoes so they all are in contact with oil. As the potatoes start to brown I turn each potato piece individually with a fork and remove and drain on a paper towel or paper bag as each piece achieves a deep golden brown.

Add additional salt and pepper to taste.

Chili & Egg Polenta

Crispy fried polenta cakes topped with home-made chili and a fried egg. What's not to like? Use the suggested chili recipe or your own favorite. Great use of leftover chili and polenta.

Turkey chili

1 1/2 lbs ground turkey
1/2 large onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, chopped fine
3 tbs chili powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp cumin
1 bay leaf
2 15 oz cans diced tomato
1 15 oz can kidney beans, rinced and drained
1 tablespoon olive oil

Heat oil in dutch oven, saute onions and garlic. Cook turkey until cooked through and add tomatoes including the canning juice and a cup of water. Add spices. Simmer for about a hour and add the kidney beans. Salt and pepper and adjust spices to taste.


1 cup polenta or coarse ground cornmeal or grits
3 cups water
1 1/2 tbs water
1 cup grated parmesan

Boil water and slowly add polenta while stirring. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occassionally to keep the polenta from sticking or clumping. Stir in butter and cheese and spoon and level into a cassarole dish. Refrigerate over-night to firm up the polenta.

Cut the polenta into any shape you like and fry with a little butter on medium heat until crispy. Top with a fried egg, a couple spoonfuls of chili, a small sprinkling of grated cheddar and diced green onion.

The pomegranate seeds as garnish are optional of course.

Creamed Chipped Beef on Toast

Also fondly and not so fondly known as SOS.

At the end of May, the men of Easy packed up their barracks bags and … [took] a stop-and-go train ride to Sturgis, Kentucky. At the depot Red Cross girls had coffee and doughnuts for them, the last bit of comfort they would know for a month. They marched out to the countryside and pitched pup tents, dug straggle trenches for latrines, and ate the Army's favorite meal for troops in the field, creamed chipped beef on toast, universally known as SOS, or Shit on a Shingle.
~From Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose

Regardless of being maligned by generations of former servicemen, I find many veterans hold perhaps a nostalgic fondness for this dish. Creamed chipped beef itself is a dried, salted, smoked preserved meat product which explains it's widespread use in field kitchens. Preparing it requires only flour and condensed, evaporated or dried milk and it can be prepared in ginormous quantities to feed to an army of hungry soldiers. It also proves that you can put almost anything in cream sauce and it's improved.

While I find many people will turn their noses up at this dish, I once brought a crock pot of it to a small food festival, and was surprised when not a drop remained at the end of the event. I wouldn't eat it everyday, but I enjoy an occasional SOS once in awhile.

There are several brands of dried beef. I've found the Hormel brand is the most common in my area and comes in convenient resealable glass jars.

1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup milk
1.5 ounces dried beef, sliced
Fresh ground black pepper

Soak the beef in a small bowl to remove some of the salt. This allows you to adjust the salt content of the dish yourself.

In a small sauce pan over medium heat melt the butter and add the flour while constantly stirring with a whisk to make a roux. When the flour/butter mix is just starting to brown, add the milk and continue stirring until the sauce thickens and evenly coats the back of a spoon without dripping off.

Drain and add the beef, stirring for a couple minutes. If the sauce becomes too thick you can add just a touch of milk.

Add salt and a couple grinds of pepper to taste.

Serve on toast or English muffin

Optionally, if you want to get fancy, add a fried or poached egg. Cayenne pepper or paprika. Parsley, green onions or even saute'd mushrooms.


Grits are basically cornmeal. Yellow, white, medium grind, course grind, instant, quick and hominey. All can be made into grits.

Grits in the South mostly refers to white or hominey grits.

You've got your yellow, made from yellow corn, white from white corn and hominey which is made by a process using yellow corn and lye which turns it white. You can make good grits out of any type of medium to course stone grind cornmeal. Mostly the difference is slapping a label that says "GRITS" on cornmeal.

The quick and instant types are processed to reduce cooking time. I'd avoid those. Go with real stone ground grits. It's not like the real stuff takes any time or special effort anyway. Grits are on the plate in about 10 minutes using real unprocessed stoneground grits.

It all really comes down to personal preferrence. Me? I'm not a big fan of lye or other stuff you use to unclog toilets in my food, so I went with this yellow corn grit variety. The only real difference between grits and polenta is method of cooking and ingredients. If you really are concerned about color you can track down white corn varieties but yellow grits don't bother me. It's all cornmeal. You could make grits out of standard shelf cornmeal. The only difference really would be in texture since most stuff labeled cornmeal is a finer grind than what's labeled grits.

The cooking? Nothing could be simpler.

Basic Grits:
1.5 cups water
A couple pinches of salt.
.5 cup stone ground grits.
Tbsp butter

Bring the water to a boil in a lidded saucepan. Add the salt. Reduce heat to medium and slowly stir in the grits. Stir the grits constantly for 5 minutes, remove from heat , stir in the butter, put the lid on, and let sit for 5 more minutes while you fix the rest of your b-fast.

Fluff it up and serve. If you prefer it runnier, add more moisture. You can also use milk for a creamer version.

This is all really going to come down to personal preferrence and what your own experience is. I imagine that many people just are fine with Quaker Oats Quick Grits or that's what Mom used to make, so that's "grits" to them. And that's fine. But it's all just cornmeal folks and there's alot of different ways to cook 'em up and types.

There's no such thing as "true grits" really.

Ham, Swiss & Mushroom Crêpe

Though most Americans are familiar with sweet crêpe, not as many are intimate with the savory crêpe. The filling for crêpes is really only limited to your imagination and the contents of your refrigerator or pantry. Here's one of my personal favorites.

For the crêpe
1 cup flour
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
2 tbs melted butter

Melt the butter in a saute pan. Combine ingredients in a blender and pulse about 10 times or until smooth. You might have to scrape off flour from the sides with a rubber spatula between pulses. Set aside in refrigerator while you make the filling.

For the filling
1/2 onion, diced
8 medium mushrooms, sliced
8 ounces Parisian ham, diced
8 ounces Gruyère or Swiss cheese, grated
4 tbs cream

Saute the onions in the ready pan you melted the butter in, on medium heat, until just translucent and add the mushrooms. Continue to saute about 10 minutes or until the mushrooms and onions are browning. Reduce heat to medium low and add the ham and toss. Continue to toss occasionally while you prepare the crêpes.

Ready a large skillet. I like my crêpes large. 10-12 inches across. If you prefer smaller crêpes just half the portions of batter and filling and serve two crêpes per person. I usually use a huge anodized slab sided pan or a large well-seasoned cast iron skillet. If you have a nice crêpe pan, even better.

Turn the heat on medium high and using a pat of butter on a knife or fork coat the bottom of the skillet with it, making sure that the entire surface has a thin coat. Renew the coat after each crêpe. When the butter has finished foaming, but before browning, pour 1/4 of the batter in the center of the skillet. Tilt and rotate the skillet to more or less evenly distribute the batter. As the bottom is cooking, use the flat side of a spatula and drag any wet batter from the top of the crêpes to the ends and enlarge the crêpe. This method will ensure your crêpes will be both thin and wonderfully large. Personally, I could care less if the crêpe is uneven on the sides and isn't perfectly round. Taste and character is more important than achieving the perfect circle here.

The crêpe should only take a few minutes to brown the bottom. Lift an edge and peer under the crêpe, it should be a speckled light golden brown. When ready to turn simply slide a large spatula under the center of the crêpe and lift, turn and drop back in the skillet in one steady motion.

While the crêpe is cooking turn your attention back to the filling for a moment. Turn up the heat to medium high on the filling and add the cream. Boil for just a minute while tossing and then turn the heat back to low. Now back to the crêpe.

Allow the crêpe to cook for a couple minutes on the other side and peer under it to look for doneness. The other side will brown abit differently. Instead of a nice speckled more even browning from the first side, the recently cooked side should be more of a pattern of brown dots, that are perhaps a little darker than the other side. Don't panic. This is what you want, no one will see this side anyway.

Now remove the crepe to your assembly plate, turning it over again so the most recently cooked side is facing up. sprinkle 1/4 of the cheese and 1/4 of the filling in a line in the middle of the crêpe, north to south. Now take the west side, lift and cover the filling, tucking it under and roll the crêpe west to east. Transfer the assembled crêpe to plate. Repeat for the rest.

Goes nice with a nice side salad.

Serves 4