Reading The Postman Always Rings Twice a couple of years back, one thing really stood out. James M. Cain hated corned beef hash.
In a hundred-odd pages, his characters bitch and moan about the hash house more than once. “That road, it don’t lead anywhere but to the hash house,” whines Cora. She and her illicit beau actually hatch murder plans just to keep her from slinging hash the rest of her days. Jiminy!
Now, I can’t imagine working in a Depression-era diner was a swingin’ good time. Still, it unfairly gives hash a bad rap. Few dishes offer such rib-sticking satisfaction for such little effort.
When you think about it, hash is just a chopped and sautéed salad. (The name does come from the French hacher, “to chop”.) At its simplest, it’s a bunch of vegetables and/or meat cut into small pieces and tossed in a pan. (By that definition, it’s not much different from a stirfry either.)
But wow! What a difference that sauté makes. Cooking the ingredients together blends their flavours and textures, making them more than the sum of their parts. Topped with a couple of poached eggs, there’s a reason it’s a brunch staple. It’s the right sort of tender comfort that pairs perfectly with Friends reruns and a bad hangover.
Anything as simple as hash can go in a thousand directions (just look at Hash House A Go Go). Personally, I love this totally inauthentic Mexican version. Here, I’ve swapped the classic corned beef and potatoes for their south of the border stand-ins (chorizo and squash). Charred poblanos add grassiness and a mild, smoky heat.
In the end, this hash is zestier, it’s got a lower glycemic load, and it pulls everyone’s favourite UNESCO-recognized flavours into a great dish that works as well for dinner as for breakfast. So, suck on that, Cora!
Serves 2 for dinner
- 2 poblano peppers
- 1 small butternut squash
- ½ red onion
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- black pepper
- 1 link of chorizo
- 1 ½ cups (or one 15 oz. can) cooked black beans
- 2 cloves of garlic
- fresh oregano
- ½ lime
- 4 eggs
- a splash of any vinegar
- 1 avocado
- 1 scallion
Set your broiler on high.
Rinse and dry the poblanos, then place them under the broiler (on a baking sheet for easy access). Check every few minutes to watch their tough skin char in the heat. Turn them as needed to roast them evenly.
Peel, seed, and chop the butternut squash into medium dice, about as wide as a fingernail. Store them in a large mixing bowl. (PRO TIP: Some grocery stores carry peeled and seeded squash, if you’re strapped for time.)
Chop the red onion the same size as the squash, then add it to the mixing bowl.
Set a large frying pan on your stove over medium-high heat (7 or 8). Wait a minute or two for it to get hot.
Drizzle the olive oil into the pan, then add the cumin and smoked paprika. Stir the spices around until you smell them.
Add the squash and onions to the frying pan. Season the whole thing with a three-finger pinch of salt. Stir this mixture every minute or so.
Remove the poblanos from the oven. Peel and discard their dark, charred skins. Then, chop the flesh into dice the same size as the squash and onions. Stir them into the frying pan.
Chop the chorizo into dice the same size as the squash, onions, and peppers. Stir these dice into the frying pan.
If using canned beans, drain and rinse them in a colander. (If using leftover beans, there’s no need to rinse them.) Stir the beans into the frying pan.
Smash and mince two cloves of garlic, then add them to the frying pan as well.
Tear off several leaves of fresh oregano and add them to the pan. Continue stirring the mixture until the squash turns soft, around 10 to 15 minutes. Taste the seasoning as you go, adding salt, pepper, or lime juice as needed.
Meanwhile, heat a separate pot of water over high heat until it’s boiling rapidly. Add a couple of big, three-finger pinches of salt. Then, turn the heat down to low (2 or 3) and wait for the bubbles to stop. Squirt the vinegar into the water.
Crack each egg into a separate bowl, then gently tip them into the water. Watch as the whites turn translucent. Using a spoon, gently nudge the whites into place. Set a timer for four minutes.
After four minutes, gently pull the eggs from the water using a slotted spoon. Dry the eggs by holding them over a kitchen towel and gently tapping it with the back of the spoon. Lay the eggs aside.
Slice the scallion on the bias (at an angle) into long slivers.
Divide the squash-poblano-chorizo-onion mixture into bowls. Top each bowl with two eggs, sliced avocado, sliced scallion, and additional oregano leaves.