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Thursday, January 5, 2012

James Beard’s Roast Beef Hash


I just wish this looked as good as it tastes


Joe Beef's Veal Pojarski
This week, the New York Times’ Dining Section featured a front-page article entitled “Lucky to Be a Leftover”.   In it were some remarkable ideas from people all over who made meatballs from holiday hams (no recipe on that one and boy, did I want it!), to Veal Pojarski, made from diced roasted veal, pork or beef and a specialty of those two Montreal Chefs-of-the-Moment, Joe Beef’s own Dave McMillan and Frederic Morin.  The Montrealers go all the way to sticking a roasted bone in the resultant meatball.  The thing looks phenomenally good.  But to me, the best thing to do with the gorgeous centerpiece from our Christmas Day table, our standing Rib Roast of Beef, is to make Roast Beef Hash.

Bobby Van's in beautiful downtown Bridgehampton
        Now I love hash.  Especially when there’s plenty of meat and the roast used hasn’t been trimmed to death.  There’s a really good hash at Bobby Van’s Restaurant in Bridgehampton (2393 Main Street, Tel:  (631) 537-0590 ).  It’s full of flavor and crispy hash browns. Occasionally I note a distinctly lower beef content. I always put this down to how much Prime Rib the place has left over from the night before.    When I make our own Roast Beef Hash, I can go slightly crazy with the beef.  The original recipe for today’s post called for just 2 cups of Cold roast beef and an identical volume of Yukon Gold Potatoes.  I kept the potatoes at 2 cups and upped the beef to about 4.  And this is no diet dish.  Not with a half cup of cream added into it.  I am quite sure you could substitute an equal amount of beef stock in its place but it wouldn’t be something James Beard would advise.
James Beard 1903-1985
         James Beard was one of the seminal cooks in truly changing the way Americans ate.  He introduced the joys of French cooking to a generation raised on meat and potatoes.  He was a giant of a man, well over 6 feet tall and of ample girth.  He was also an amazingly prolific writer managing to compose some 20 books and countless magazine articles.  This output is particularly astonishing since Beard didn’t get his culinary calling until rather late in life.  Born in 1903, he moved to New York from his native Portland Oregon in 1937.  For years he pursued an acting career without much luck.  He and a friend named Bill Rhodes started a catering company called Hors d’Oeuvres, Inc. which capitalized on the Cocktail Party craze of that moment. He wrote his first book on Hors d’Oeuvres in 1940.  Wartime rationing did his business in. But he was well on his way to becoming a culinary force to reckon with and in 1946, he appeared on a new television show called  “I Love to Eat”.  And there was probably no more apt a show title for anything in which James Beard would appear. 
          The man was the consummate eater and teacher. Travelling the country, he introduced it to good food made with fresh, wholesome American ingredients.  He was one of the first chefs to become ‘a brand’ and became “the name, face and belly of American gastronomy” according the writer David Kamp in his wonderful book “The United States of Arugula: The Sun Dried, Cold-pressed, Dark-Roasted, Extra Virgin Story of the American Food Revolution. New York: Broadway Books, 2006.  James Beard had a career that only ended with his death at age 81 in 1985.  Fortunately, he lives on in his eponymous foundation: The James Beard Foundation was set up in his honor and continues to operate out of his former town house in Greenwich Village.  The place is open for private parties and we’ve been fortunate to be invited to several.  The kitchen remains pretty much the way he left it. And every May, the coveted James Beard Foundation Awards are given out to an amazingly diverse group of food industry professionals ranging from chefs to restaurant designers.
James Beard, front and center
on David Kamp's
great book 
         But back to the hash.  Beard was a true hash aficionado.  He loved the stuff and made some startling variations.  Not content with just corned beef hash or chicken hash, his recipes included one for clam hash.  But for today, we’ll stick with this recipe which first appeared in James Beard's American Cookery (Little, Brown, 1972). It’s a wonderful savory hash that, with the addition of a poached egg would make a wonderful breakfast.  Ours however, we ate at dinner.
Here is the recipe:




Recipe for Roast Beef Hash adapted from James Beard

1/4 cup beef drippings or canola oil

2 cups boiled and cooled yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1/2" cubes

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2-4 cups cold roast beef, cut into generous 1/2" cubes

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tsp. fresh thyme, finely chopped

1/8 tsp. cayenne

1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 tbsp. chopped parsley

1. In a 12" skillet, heat beef drippings or oil over medium-high heat. Add potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 8–10 minutes. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 10 minutes. 



Add beef, garlic, thyme, cayenne, and nutmeg; cook, stirring occasionally, until beef browns, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.






2. Add heavy cream, stir to combine, and press hash down into the skillet with a metal spatula.  Turn hash in parts every 2 minutes, loosening any browned bits, until the cream has reduced and hash forms a crust, about 10 minutes. Garnish with parsley and serve hot with fried or poached eggs, if you like.
Serves 4. 

18 comments:

  1. I love roast beef hash. This is very different from what I make and it looks better. Very crispy. I always have a problem getting it that way. Anyone who loves hash will look at the picture and know it is delicious.

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  2. The crispy bits are always the best! But that's what makes the photo look so unappealing. You can use any leftover roast beef you have, by the way. It does not need to be Prime Rib.

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  3. Crispy bits... Yummmm.. I'm in! Cream? I was surprised, it looks marvelous and my in-laws are Hash lovers, a recipe for 4 on Sunday, coming up!

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  4. Dear Ana, I must tell you that the two of us ate this entire recipe. I might advise upping the quantities especially for hash lovers.

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  5. Thanks so much for this recipe. Best. Hash. Ever. Made it last night and I still can't stop thinking about it! Made a fried egg (over easy) to go with it, and had steamed broccoli drizzled with tarragon vinegar as a side. Perfect accompaniments.

    Couple things I want to mention as well: I used bacon fat in lieu of the beef drippings or canola oil--added another nice layer of flavor.

    Also, though it turned out not to be problematic for me, it appears there was an omission in the instructions, as in the first paragraph of the recipe it says to heat the fat over medium high heat, and in the last paragraph one is again instructed to turn the heat up to medium high heat. But nowhere in between those two paragraphs does the recipe say to turn the heat down. Not a big deal..just sayin'.

    Thanks again for sharing this terrific recipe. I'll be making it for years to come, for sure!

    Mary

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    1. How annoying was that Mary? I have changed the recipe to reflect the fact that the heat is on medium high througout the cooking process. And God bless James Beard! You might be interested in knowing that this is one of the most popular posts on the blog! Thanks again for picking up on a mistake. And all best to you.

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  6. I wonder if somehow I recently channeled James Beard specifically for this recipe. A few months ago we were visiting the states (I live and work overseas). One evening I hosted dinner for my daughter, her husband, and some close friends. We visited the top steak and seafood restaurant in the area, one that has reigned supreme there for 22 years. It was my wife's first visit to the restaurant, and as things might go, I wasn't being attentive enough, and she became confused about what to order. She knew she wanted to try the beef, but somehow she ended up ordering a 32 ounce monster of a t-bone. We all had a great laugh when it arrived and the look on her face was priceless. Fortunately, I had the thought to divide the steak into three parts before she started. She didn't even finish one. The other two pieces we "doggie bagged". Two evenings later we were cooking at home for just my daughter, her husband and us. We had two 8 oz rib eyes which I quickly cooked up in a pan with a little butter and a dash of lemon juice. Then I proceeded to make hash, pretty much per the above. I swear I did this intuitively, though I did not use the cream. Instead I de-glazed the steak pan with half a cup of red wine, added another knob of butter, and a tablespoon of worstershire. When I brought together the steak, potatoes, and onions, I added some roasted garlic which had been left over from yet another meal, some fresh thyme, and (in what I thought at the time was an impulse) a half teaspoon of nutmeg. It was delicious and a big hit. After reading this entry however, I am puzzled by the lucky attempt. It's true that I was a James Beard fan even during my youth. In our house, my mother and father both loved to cook and we alway watched his shows on TV. In addition, our local newspaper carried his syndicated column which I never missed. What do you think? Did I channel the revered Mr. Beard, or did I actually carry forward a lesson fom him these past fifty years? It is a wonderful puzzle and I am pleased to find your blog as it adds a bit of spice to my story. When I make this again I will try the cream and I will also use the bacon fat, a wonderful idea from Mary for added richness.

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    1. Dear Simplifried, How nice to hear from you and what a great story! Sometimes cooking really is intuitive and it looks like you really know your way around a kitchen. You might be amazed to know that this post is incredibly popular especially right after Christmas when, apparently, there are pounds and pounds of leftover beef. Over 1000 people viewed this recipe just this month. As to your channelling Mr. Beard, it appears that your recipe is a little healthier than his because you eschew the cream. All best to you and thanks so much for your comment. Monte

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  7. Monte,

    Finally made the roast beef hash. The recipe is almost the same as mine except yours includes heavy cream. The addition of the heavy cream makes all the difference! It ties it all together and helps
    make a crusty exterior. Perfection!

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    1. So glad you liked it. This is one of the top 5 posts on the blog! People just cannot get enough of it! XOXO Monte

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  8. BTW, I googled roast beef hash and your article came up 3rd or 4th.

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    1. That makes me extremely happy! Thanks for sharing!

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  9. I want to post this on FB. Is there a way?

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    1. Yes, you can! All you have to do is to copy the link and then put it in the Facebook post. Thanks Lauren!

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  10. Made this after Christmas with the leftover roast. Delicious!!!! My husband, who came in at 2 am after playing a gig, ate his at the urging of my son, who couldn't stop talking about it. I also used bacon fat as my oil. James Beard would be proud, I'm sure. Now looking for another opportunity to make a roast so I can have these leftovers.

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    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to write. I don't know whether you saw today's post, but it's another winner with leftover Roast Beef. Happy New Year! Monte

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  11. By far the best roast beef hash my husband and I have ever eaten! We had this very expensive USDA Prime prime rib of beef leftover from Christmas, and I wanted that special flavor of a very expensive piece of meat to come through without being drowned out by other additives. This is it. We thank you and will make it year after year, for as long as we both shall live!

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    1. Dear Linda, Thank you so much for taking the time to write. You might be interested in knowing that this post has been viewed over 1700 times this holiday season! My guess is there's a lot of prime rib leftover all over! All best to you and delighted you liked James Beard's wonderful recipe.

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