Wed 31 Dec 2008
The first person who made hash must have thought, “O.K., I have these leftover potatoes and some leftover roast, now what?” And he or she diced those leftovers, fried ’em up together with a little onion, and voila! there was the first hash, certainly a stable of the dinner table when I was a lad.
So, I had the leftover rib-roast from Christmas dinner, with the chopped carrots and onions it had cooked in, as well as a bag of raw shredded sweet potato from a dish LL had made. “Eureka!” I thought. So, borrowing a few tips from The New Best Recipe (America’s Test Kitchen, $35), I boiled some diced potatoes in salted water with a bay leaf, and rendered some chopped bacon for the fat and flavor. Into the pan with the bacon went some chopped onions and then after five or six minutes some thyme and garlic. Then the meat, which I had diced, the potatoes, the roasted carrots and onions and a handful of the shredded sweet potato. I poured a little, I mean just a little, heavy cream into the mixture to help bind the material and then pressed it down into the pan, a non-stick skillet, with a spatula. The first image shows the hash at this stage.
What you want is for the hash to brown enough that it begins to form a crust on the bottom. Then you turn the hash over, not as one big cake but in segments, and mix the crusty part in with the rest. Do this four or five times over eight to 10 minutes so there’s a good proportion of crust throughout the mass of the hash. The second image shows the hash when the crust is starting to form and I’ve stirred it through the mixture.
When the hash gets to this point, you break an egg for each person on top, cover the pan, and let the egg cook until just set, so that when the diner sticks a fork in the yolk, it will flow across and into the hash. I like my eggs cooked more that “just set” — I’m an “over hard” egg guy — but anyway, this classic combination made a great dinner.
Thinking that a simple, delicious meal deserved a simple, delicious wine, I opened a bottle of Red truck Zinfandel 2006, Mendocino County, but it seemed out-of-character for the grape and close to bland, so we abandoned it and opened the Henry’s Drive Pillar Box Red 2007, from Padthaway in Australia. This is a shame. The Red Truck label was created by Cline Cellars in 2002 to handle an inexpensive blend of syrah, petite sirah, cabernet franc, mourvèdre and grenache; the wine was robust and flavorful and deservedly popular. The Red Truck brand was sold to 585 Wine Partners in 2005 and is now an expanded line-up that includes zinfandel, petite sirah, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and pinot grigio; do Americans love pinot grigio so much that every cheap label has to offer one? The Red Truck wines sell for about $11. The puzzle is that one of Red Truck’s stablemates at 585 Wine Partners is a winery, Picket Fence, where Don Van Staaveren crafts wonderful sauvignon blanc and pinot noir.
Pillar Box Red 2007 is a blend of syrah (shiraz) 65 percent, cabernet sauvignon 25 percent and merlot 10 percent. It’s hearty, spicy, dark and flavorful, bursting with intense and concentrated black currant, black cherry and plum fruit that becomes more roasted and fleshy as the moments pass. There’s a core of tar and bitter chocolate, and a sort of root tea element permeated by briers and brambles. It was terrific with the hash. Very Good and great value. About $12.