Every St. Patrick’s Day the same argument erupts. I claim to be Irish, but my lack of any actual proof always causes my husband to dispute the fact. Why he feels compelled to disagree is a mystery to me. After all, on St. Patrick’s Day, aren’t we all Irish?
One thing that never gets an argument from my husband or sons is what to serve to celebrate the day. It has to be corned beef, a once-a-year treat and popular meal with every member of my family. In an effort to extend a bit of the Irish spirit past March 17, I always make enough for hash the next day, too.
Technically we’re talking about a dish consisting of diced meat and potatoes, mixed together and then cooked either alone or with other ingredients, usually onions. In practice, though, it’s one of the most delicious ways to use up a wide variety of leftovers. Pot roast? Roasted chicken? Smoked salmon? All make the most incredible hash.
What I like most about hash, apart from its taste, is how it transforms leftovers into a dish that is almost completely unrecognizable from the ingredients used.
I find myself turning to the technique over and over again, because whenever I have leftovers, I almost always have potatoes and onions, too. Of course, hash is flexible enough to include whatever is in my vegetable bin. So carrots, cabbage, peas can all be tossed into the skillet. The sky’s the limit. It’s a great way to clean out the refrigerator, and the more vegetables you include, the healthier the hash.
Once you’ve decided what will go into the hash, the rest is easy. For me, crispy hash is best. To get that result, a heavy, ovenproof skillet is a must. Cast iron works great. After I’ve sautéed some onions, I add my potatoes and begin browning them in the skillet a bit. Then I continue the browning process in the oven. If you like your hash a little softer, just skip the oven step.
While hash isn’t only for St. Patrick’s Day leftovers, it certainly merits making a little extra corned beef. Remember, while not all of us have Ellis Island records to prove our Emerald Isle roots on this day, it doesn’t matter. And as I’m sure my great-grandmother used to say (although I can’t prove it), “If you’re lucky enough to be Irish, you’re lucky enough.” Sláinte!
Meredith Deeds of Edina is the author of “Everyday to Entertaining” and “The Big Book of Appetizers.” Reach her at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @meredithdeeds.