Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.


The hash whisperer.

I don't like restaurants. I don't like the cost, I don't like the noise, I don't like being a prisoner to some idiot waiter, I don't like other people's at-table habits, and I don't like sitting in a place that feels like a nineteenth century workhouse dining room. I'd rather eat at the GMH canteen, or Coles cafeteria; where the dress standard is higher, the customers are more respectful to those around them, the food doesn't cost a fortune, and the serves are bigger. The other week my wife had to go to a work dinner at one of those barn-like renovated pubs where the noise level is like an airport and a glass of wine costs $8.95. Her meal was a pork chop that cost $34 because it had some freekeh and a five-cent-coin-sized mound of smoked onion puree next to it, and you had to pay extra for something called a 'side' which, translated, means the rest of your meal.

I ate at home alone that night. We had had corned beef earlier in the week, and there was some left over along with some halved potatoes that were cooked in the fluid along with the beef, two bay leaves, and onion and some brown vinegar. No, not balsamic. Brown.

So that was dinner again. While the potatoes were reheating gently, I cut two thick slices of corned beef and cubed them into small dice. Then I made a white sauce: melted butter in a pot, stirred in a couple of tablespoons of flour, added a cup and a half of milk, and stirred until thickened. Then I added the cubed beef and the magic ingredient, English mustard, the king of condiments. It turns ordinary white sauce ('roux' if you insist, but I am ridding my vocabulary of as many affectations as possible) into something special; and something impossible to eat if you add too much. But I love English mustard and this night I am dining alone, so I throw in a tablespoonful which brings the taste level up to about 120 decibels or whatever the terminology is for taste buds.

Meanwhile I cooked half a dozen trimmed green beans and the same number of asparagus. I placed the halved potatoes in a bowl, poured most of the beef-encrusted sauce over and topped the dish with the beans and asparagus. The salty taste explosion of corned beef in mustard sauce over soft, yielding boiled potatoes is the kind of experience you read about in those 1001 things to Do/Eat/Hear/Visit/Ride/Experience/Look at Before You Die books. It's just corned beef hash, but it's heaven. And there no people around me yapping on phones, or instagramming* their freekeh-ing meals.


Technology cynics rejoice: twitter is as good as dead.


Melbourne Girl said...

Funny, I've never been a huge fan of corned beef. Maybe it's the way I've cooked it in the past. Instead, I usually go for pickled pork. It just seems to be a bit softer, but like I said, possibly it's my cooking rather than the actual meat that's been the problem. White sauce though, well that's another thing altogether, which reminds me, I need to put dry mustard and vinegar on my shopping list this week

Dr. Alice said...

Me, I do like corned beef and that sounds delicious. Pouring the sauce over the potatoes is an interesting variation. Here the potatoes are generally cubed and sauteed (no - fried - this is hash after all) with the beef.