Hash is an a potato dish, often served for breakfast.
The main ingredient is usually potato. The dish usually contains meat as well; rarely, a Hash will be so meaty that meat takes over as the main ingredient. There will almost certain be onion, or green onion, and perhaps other vegetables such as green pepper, etc. The simple seasoning is usually just salt and pepper. Some cooks have quite a heavy hand with the salt.
When a Hash is finished cooking, it should be moist, but browned and somewhat crispy. Hash is served hot as a side, often with ketchup. For breakfast, it might be served with eggs to the side of it, or with fried, runny eggs on top of a mound of it.
There are many variations, however, in the way it can be prepared.
The meat can be corned beef, hamburger or any left over meat such as sausages, even wieners or bologna, but the meat will always be in small pieces. If corned beef is used, it can be “fresh” (the deli kind) or from a can, and is likely to be called “corned beef hash.”
The potatoes can be peeled or unpeeled, raw or already cooked. Hash is quickest and easiest to make with leftover boiled potatoes. If you have the time, you can start with diced raw potato and just lengthen the cooking time. If you are starting with raw potato, some advise after chopping to rinse the pieces well in a colander to remove excess starch. That way, they will brown and crisp up better and not stick together so much. Potatoes usually diced up into small cubes, but more home-style Hashes might be small wedges. Some people do their potato in round slices, but purists insist that hashed means hashed, not sliced.
Some versions break an egg or two in, which then gets scrambled into the mixture.
The mixture can be fried up in bacon fat, oil, butter, lard, shortening or margarine. A classic cooking vessel for Hash is a large cast iron frying pan. Some recipes have you do Hash in the oven in a casserole dish, or on the stove in a saucepan, and no frying occurs, though browning may occur at the top of the mixture in the oven, or at the bottom of the saucepan.
Hash is always better the next day, though canned or leftover hash can be incorporated in scrambled eggs, meatloaf, hamburgers, casseroles, etc.
Some cooks confuse Hash with home fries.
You can get Hash canned, ready to heat and serve.
Fry chopped onion first until soft. Ditto any other vegetable (such as green pepper, green onion, etc.) Some people add shredded or diced carrot; others think it makes the Hash too sweet.
If starting with raw potato, you can either dice them small and slowly fry them, or add some water, cover and simmer them down, then add more fat, add cooked meat and fry.
Stir occasionally to keep it broken up and loose.
Literature & Lore
“POTATO HASH: Peel 1 quart of onions and 1 of potatoes. Slice them together and boil them tender in 1/2 gallon of water. Then add 1 pint sweet cream, a lump of butter the size of an egg. A good supper dish.” — Sister Charlotte Roberts, Artemas, Pa. In The Inglenook Cookbook. 1906
“The hash we refer to is a de luxe variety labeled Art’s Brand, and no less an artist than GOURMET’s chef, Louis P. DeGouy, developed the formula. It’s a hash 60 per cent corned beef, 30 per cent potato. The meat is chopped into small, even pieces, no unexpected hunks. The potato is finely diced, each ingredient cut separately, then mixed, and so carefully! Seasoning is added—salt, pepper, and herbs. The hash is neither watery nor dry, which is exactly how a hash should be.” — Paddleford, Clementine (1898 – 1967). Food Flashes Column. Gourmet Magazine. July 1947.