Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Aarti Cooks: Hair of the Dog Hash

Ouch. My head hurts. But everytime it throbs, I smile remembering the source of my pain.

Having married into an Irish-American family, St. Patrick's day has taken on an entirely different meaning for me. I barely noticed it when I was growing up in Dubai, except when the Irish boy in my class, Jonathan Ryan, poked a daffodil through his lapel. Oh-ho, have times changed now that I've come to America!

Now, as a Sequeira married to a McNamara, I celebrate the famed serpent-banisher's day in a wholly secular fashion at O'Briens, an Irish-owned pub in Santa Monica. The tradition was started by Bren's Uncle Dan, to whom this day is akin to Christmas.

Uncle Dan, pondering the real cause of the potato famine.

Uncle Dan will get to O'Briens at about 7am, have an Irish breakfast (REAL bacon! sigh!), washed down by a few Irish coffees, before we get there at around 10am, have an Irish breakfast and wash it down with, oh I don't know, 6 or 7 irish coffees. As the supping transitions to Guiness and Harp, we relax into the massive booth, cheering every new wave of friends that comes to visit and covering our ears when the bagpiper inevitably starts up. We might have some lunch around 2pm and eventually, when the clock strikes 4, we'll drag our numb bums out of the booth, wave tata to the lovely staff, and venture out into the (too bright by then) sunshine, sharing our giddy Guiness giggles with everyone we meet.

It's a day of laughter and carousing and family. It's great.

This year, we were "victims" of the economy; no O'Briens for Dan. Nor for us. Dan was devastated. The St. Patrick's Grinch seemed to have succeeded.

But then, Bren and I had the same idea. Why not try to do the same thing at our place? We called Dan who enthusiastically rode to the rescue, a Santa of sorts, loaded up with an assortment of Irish whiskeys, TWO corned beef briskets, and more carrots and potatoes than should be legal. I followed Elise's example over at SimplyRecipes, boiling one brisket the traditional way (with Dan's direction: lots of potatoes and carrots, substituting a couple bottles of Guiness for the water), while roasting the other in the oven with honey-mustard and brown sugar.

I have to say that I liked the beefy flavour of the roasted version, but I also liked that the boiled version was less salty. Next year, I think I might boil it for an hour, and then roast in the oven for an hour. You can see the difference in texture here too; the meat on the left is boiled, on the right is roasted.

I also made some of that awesome onion-date compote, and we set up a station so that people could fix themselves an Irish coffees whenever they chose.

We had such a blast! What a fantastic day!

We had just the right number of fantastic people come over and lounge on our couch, drinking in the ocean breeze and the sparkling sunshine, and swaying ever so slightly to the endless mix of Pogues, Van Morisson and the Chieftans blasting out the stereo.

Doesn't Bren look oh-so Irish in this photo?

Today, we are both hurting, Bren more so than myself. And with the remainder of the corned beef taking up precious room in our fridge, I decided to make my all-time favorite breakfast dish of all: corned beef hash.

Uh-oh. I feel a spot of Corned Beef trivia coming on. Can't. Stop. For. Give. Me....

Did you know that corned beef is not a traditional Irish dish? When the Irish came to New York City many moons ago, they were looking for a substitute for the pricey bacon joint of the old country. Whaddya know, they stumbled upon the brisket cut of their Jewish neighbours, which had that same hardy, meaty texture. And, bob's your uncle, corned beef was born. Mooooo.

And did you know that the "corned" part refers to the salting process used to preserve meat back in the day? Meat was thrown into a barrel with kernals of rock salt ("corns"), so that it could travel on long journeys without refrigeration! These days, we mirror that process by soaking the brisket in brine for a day or so.

Phew! Glad I got that out of my system!

This version of corned beef hash is a little different from the traditional, a reflection of the two flags figuratively flying over our lowly apartment: Ireland and India. In addition to the traditional corned beef and potatoes (I used the same ones I cooked the boiled brisket with), I added some roasted red peppers for sweetness, some fresh ginger, garam masala and coriander. I also snuck in a splash of whiskey to try the ol' "hair of the dog" treatment. I am therefore dubbing it the McSequeira Hair of the Dog Hash (my last name is Sequeira and Bren's is McNamara, for those of you who don't know me yet).

Oh also, there's no cabbage. I don't like cabbage and nor does Bren. If you like it, add it. If you don't, then we're better friends that I thought. Ha!

I love hash 'n' eggs, so I carved four holes in the top of the hash, and poured an egg into each, allowing the residual heat of the hash to cook the eggs through. We just polished off half of it and while my head still throbs a little, my tummy is very very happy. And there's still another half for dinner!

If you have any leftovers, or if you're planning on making some corned beef this weekend, give it a go. Slainte!

McSequeira Hair of the Dog Hash
(Corned Beef Hash with Ginger, Irish whiskey and garam masala)

You'll need this stuff:

1 onion, diced
2 tbsp ginger, chopped small but not minced too finely
2 roasted red peppers, chopped
1/2 tsp ground coriander (or you can use the whole kind if you like a stronger coriander flavour. Soak them for about 10 minutes in water though to soften 'em)
1/4 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp thyme
2 generous cups potatoes and carrots (cooked) from previous day's boiled beef
(Alternatively: peel and dice potatoes and carrots into 1/4" pieces, cook in boiling water for about 2 mins or until tender. Drain and set aside)
2 cups corned beef, chopped into 1/4" pieces
Splash Irish whiskey
Splash of half and half (or cream; optional)
4 eggs
Salt & pepper
Small handful chopped fresh parsley or cilantro

1) Heat a couple of tablespoons of canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Once shimmering, add the onion and ginger. Saute until lightly browned, dark brown around the edges and sweet smelling, about 10 minutes.

2) Add garam masala, coriander, thyme and roasted red peppers. Saute 2 minutes.

3) Add potatoes and carrots, flattening slightly with your spatula. Once warmed through and sizzling, add the corned beef. Pour in whiskey and (if you like) half and half. Turn heat up to medium-high, weigh down with a plate and something heavy. Allow to cook and crisp on one side for 5-7 minutes.

4) Remove weights, toss the hash so browned bits are on top. Add a touch more oil if it's sticking too much. Flatten again with your spatula, weigh down and allow to crisp up, 7-10 minutes.

5) Remove weights, carve 4 small holes in the hash with a spoon (not all the way down to the pan). Taste and season with salt and pepper. Pour an egg into each hole. Turn the heat off, and cover, allowing the eggs to cook for another 10 minutes or so. Sprinkle with chopped parsley or cilantro and serve!

Enjoy it!




Merlin said...

I loved the entire story, starting with earlier years celebrations which by the way i can truly say are right up my alley.Current economic tsunami,birthed the beef hash combo, which i am sure was delicious.
As far as the "self inflicted wounds" are concerned, they go with the territory. Can't imagine a sober a st. pat's day!
Remember the holiday in emerald isle?

aartilla the fun said...

hahahaaha i knew oyu would love it! i think you might really like this hash dad. i can't wait to make it for you!


p.s. i don't remember st pats in ireland... i do remember drinking in a bit of a fog at the guiness brewery though. that was fun!

Anonymous said...

Hey Aarti!
Love the recipe. I adore proper corned beef, not that horrible stuff that comes from a tin,,,which should really be banned! I love the Mc Sequeira twist on it.
Just a little note, why was Johnny Ryan wearing a Daffodil on Paddy's day? It should've been a shamrock, as the daffodil is the flower of the Welsh!
Anyway happy St Paddy's day.
1Stong! X.

aartilla the fun said...

i know! i thought that was weird too. maybe i'm remembering it wrong. hmmmm.

i'm so glad you're into the idea of mcsequeira twist!


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