Friday, February 26, 2016

Down-Home Cooking from a Fourth-Floor Apartment

It's recipe-sharing time, mofos.

Just call me Julia Childish.

Although I love to cook, recipes aren't my favorite thing. Most of my go-to dishes are concoctions I invented (or adapted) and have refined over time. Earlier this week I prepared pork medallions in a complex lemon-herb-red pepper sauce that I basically made up off the top of my head. Drummer Boy seemed to enjoy it, so I'll add that to my repertoire, assuming I can remember exactly what ingredients I actually used. If I can't, I'll improvise. That's how I roll.

Most of my favorite things to cook are simple, hearty, down-home creations based on what I have in the house at the moment. And that to me is the essence of cooking: Seeing what you have and figuring out how to make it into something delicious.

Not saying I'm ready to compete on "Chopped," though.
I don't think I can find a way to make calf eyeballs palatable.

Tonight I made my signature Ham Hash. And it turned out so well I thought I'd share it with you beautiful people.

This is not a high-class recipe. I'm sure it could be upscaled by using premium ham, fresh fingerling potatoes, and organic string beans. If you must.

That would be totally missing the point, mind you. This is quick, easy comfort food. If you like your comfort food slow and elaborate, then OF COURSE you should indulge in the finest ingredients and most time-consuming preparation.

But geez...missing the point.

Also, if you like precise, unambiguous recipes, please stop here. I dirtied not a single measuring cup or spoon in the making of this meal. My philosophy about how much of a given ingredient to add is essentially "do it until it tastes good."

Honestly the least NSFW image I could find related to my last statement.

You guys, that philosophy is useful in a variety of situations. You're welcome.

Anyway, do you want to make some goddamn Ham Hash or not? Then here we go (notice that if your answer is "hell no," I'm ignoring you. Go read a blog about scrapbooking or the Illuminati or some damn thing. You can come back when we're through here).

First, melt some butter in a frying pan. I typically use about 1 1/2 tablespoons. Note that it says BUTTER. If you want to ruin your life by using margarine, that's your business, but you kind of suck. You could also use some heart-healthy extra-virgin olive oil, I guess. But it's not BUTTER. Butter is tasty in a way that only butter can be. I can watch my cholesterol when I'm dead.

Throw in some minced garlic. Let's call it a teaspoon of minced garlic, although really I have no idea. I keep a jar of minced garlic in the fridge, and I dig out a blob that's about quarter-sized. If you live somewhere that doesn't use quarters (or teaspoons, for that matter), then just add as much damn garlic as suits your fancy. Sautee until the fumes make your eyes water, or until the garlic starts to brown. Whatever.

Now open a can of those little whole potatoes. I think they're called new potatoes, although I doubt that by the time they're harvested, peeled, cooked, canned, and shipped to the store they're exactly new. See, here's where you could get all fancy and peel and cook your own fresh new potatoes. But that seems like a lot of work when you can buy a perfectly good can of the little fuckers and watch them roll out onto your cutting board like wee adipose babies.

I mean, I suppose we can be friends if you don't get that reference.
I suppose. But still.

Oh, but first drain and rinse them. Let's face it, that slightly slimy potato juice they come in is pretty gross.

Cut the spuds into 6-8 pieces each, depending on size. This makes pretty big chunks, and you can feel free to cut them smaller, or even buy the kind that come pre-cut into little cubes. Me, I like big spuds and I cannot lie.

You're going to cook them taters in butter and garlic, stirring frequently, until they start to get brown and smell like heaven. Then sprinkle with a little grated Parmesan cheese - a teaspoon or two, I guess, I don't know. You don't want to make your hash cheesy, you just want a little of that Parmesan flavor in the mix. You know how you have to bang the container against the table a couple of times to loosen up the clumps? Do that, and shake out as much as comes out.

Now add your ham. Personally, I always have a ham steak on hand because ham is one of the few meats Precocious Daughter will eat. But if you have leftovers from a whole ham, they'll work great, as well. Cut up about a half-pound into pieces that complement the size of your potatoes. No, I didn't say "compliment the size of your potatoes." That sounds vaguely naughty, and I won't have that shit here.


And yes, if you use the little pre-cubed potatoes, you can also use a package of pre-cubed ham. You're totally outdoing me in laziness at this point, but there's no judgment here. Unless you use margarine instead of butter. That's ridiculous and you deserve mockery.

Toss that ham in the pan and keep cooking, baby. You're going to want to throw in a bit of salt and pepper (keeping in mind that ham is already pretty salty, so don't overdo it). Then add the seasoning of your choice. I've made this with ginger, I've made it with oregano, and I've made it with rosemary, and they're all good. I don't measure herbs and spices as a rule, so you're on your own with quantity. The good news is, you get to sneak lots of little tastes while you adjust the seasoning. The bad news is, you may end up bringing a half-empty pan to the table if you can't control yourself. You gotta take those risks if you're gonna cook.


Sorry, was I shouting? Just a bit of residual trauma. Nothing to worry about.

I'm fine.

Anyway, I use frozen green beans. Now, you don't want to be throwing frozen beans into your sizzling pan and bring everybody down. On the other hand, if you fully cook them first, you're likely to end up with limp, soggy beans that are barely a step up from canned, and I don't think you want me to have another canned-bean-related meltdown, do you? So I pop them in the microwave for 30-60 seconds, just enough to thaw them out. You should use enough beans to create a pleasing meat-to-spud-to-bean ratio, or alternatively, enough to convince yourself that you're actually having a serving of vegetables. Whatever makes it easier on you.

Stir in your beans, adjust your seasoning to taste, then turn down the heat a bit and slap a lid on that pan. Let everything simmer for five to 10 minutes, or until you're pretty sure you've killed whatever parasites live in undercooked ham.

Eat. Eat it all. Eat until you're stuffed but there are still a few morsels of delicious fried potato left, then eat those. Push your chair back and make the Homer Simpson drooling noise.

By the way, this makes two generous servings. It's a snap to double or triple, though, so stock up on those canned taters and make sure you have BUTTER in the house.

I'd like to think that Gordon Ramsay would have a profanity-laced tirade if presented with this recipe. That would make me happy. Who doesn't want to have multiple f-bombs lobbed at them by a master chef? But I firmly believe that once he tasted my Ham Hash, he would get all doe-eyed and fluttery and ask me to be his wife/mistress/personal chef. And of course, I would reply, "That's very flattering, Gordon, but fuck off." Because who doesn't want to say that?

Anyway, that's dinner, Baudelaire-style. And remember: Real butter. And NO. CANNED. GREEN. BEANS. EVER.


  1. Egads that sounds delish! Thanks for the share- now can we be Pinterest friends so I can pin this or something?

  2. Ham. Potatoes. Butter. Done.

  3. I got to the ham and then I remembered that I prefer my ham lightly fried with salt, and that's all, and that sounded simpler. So that's what I ate. Sorry.

    Also no Parmesan cheese here in Terroristan. The Caliph Baghdadi forbid it.

  4. You are so very ready to go on "Chopped" and not only win $10,000 but come back for the season finale and win the grand prize and I will only be envious of you being that close to Ted Allen.
    And notice he wears those PBR glasses.
    Anyway I'm going to make this hash recipe because (1) it sounds delicious and (2) is comfort food that does not have Campbell's cream of mushroom soup as a major ingredient.


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