Leftovers reinvented are a thing of beauty. After St. Patrick’s Day, I always have leftover corned beef and cabbage. I rarely like to eat my leftovers the same way (leftover meatballs and spaghetti become a pasta bake, or meatball subs, for an easy example) so I often use St. Paddy’s leftovers to make corned beef and cabbage hash.
Hash comes from the french word hacher, which means “to chop.” Hash usually consists of meat, potatoes and spices chopped into a dice and cooked with onions. Canned corned beef hash became especially popular in France and Britain during and after World War II since rationing limited the availability of fresh meat. Hormel, a popular brand of canned corned beef, started selling its product in the US in the 1950’s. Corned beef hash is so popular now in the US that is has a holiday; National Corned Beef Hash Day is observed on September 27th.
While I adore corned beef hash, especially made with my leftover boiled dinner from St. Patrick’s Day, it needs something extra to make is special. A poached egg fits the bill perfectly. The warm runny yellow yolk oozes beautifully into the hash, and you can dip into it with your piece of bread. In a way, egg yolks are a kind of effortless gravy.
Poaching eggs can be a bit tricky, but I have found a few things to make it a little simpler. First, use fresh eggs; the whites are tighter and less likely to fall apart in the water. Second, strain the eggs. The loose whites drip through the strainer, and what remains is an egg what that will stay together in the water. Third, pull the pan off the heat and stop the bubbles. If the water is simmering or boiling, the bubbles can disrupt your picture perfect egg whites from setting. Fourth, gently stir the water. The whirlpool effect prevents the eggs from sinking to the bottom of the water and sticking to the pan and overcooking, and encourages the whites to wrap around the yolk. Fifth, salt the water. This helps season the egg since eggs absorb the salted water as they cook.
I do not use vinegar to poach my eggs. It result in vinegary tasting eggs, and I have not noticed it helping my whites set. Science seems to bake me up: Egg proteins set up when denatured by heat or acid, but acid takes a longer time to affect your egg. As a result, it doesn’t help when you put your egg into the pan (when you need the help to set the egg) but it will help overset them as they cook in the heat, resulting in tougher, drier, vinegary eggs (in my experience). Try straining the loose whites away and skipping the vinegar; your whites with be soft, tender, tasty and attractively shaped. The dive in with your fork, and ruin the whole thing to release the silky egg yolk underneath.
1/2 a large white onion, diced
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup leftover corned beef, diced
1/4 cup leftover boiled cabbage, diced
1/4 cup leftover boiled potatoes, diced
1/4 cup leftover boiled rutabaga, diced
1/4 cup leftover carrots, diced
2 teaspoons salt
salt and pepper to taste
Method for the eggs:
Bring a large skillet of water with high sides to the boil. Add two teaspoons of salt and reduce to a simmer.
Crack an egg into a fine mesh sieve, allowing the loose white to drip away. Tip the remaining firm egg white and yolk into a ramekin. Repeat for every egg you intend to poach. Discard the runny egg whites.
Take the skillet off of the heat and stir the water with a spoon to create a gentle whirlpool effect. Tip each egg into the water, one at a time. Return to the heat, and allow to simmer for 3 to 4 minutes (for a runny yolk). Keep stirring the eggs gently during the time, to prevent the eggs from sinking to the bottom of the pan. Then remove each egg with a slotted spoon and pat dry with a paper towel. Salt and pepper to taste.
Method for the corned beef and cabbage hash:
Add the butter and oil to a large saute pan on medium high heat. Add the onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the diced corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, rutabaga and carrots. Cook until a browned crust has formed, then flip. Continue until most of the corned beef and cabbage has developed a good browned crust, about 10 minutes.
Spoon onto a plate, and top with a poached egg. Enjoy with a piece of hot buttered toast!