Monday, September 20, 2010

Hash disaster

We had the most fantastic sweet potato hash at Kozy Kitchen on Saturday morning. Too bad it ended up having bacon in it--there was a cool smokey flavor that I couldn't quite put my finger on... We had lots of potatoes at home--sweet and otherwise--so it's only natural that when the time came for lunch, we felt compelled to concoct a sweet potato hash of our own. Armed with a recent New York Times article, We loaded the potatoes into our food processor and chopped away.

I have always been a little hesitant to use the food processor as the be all, end all of food preparation. I don't seem to have the same luck with it as our friend, The Minimalist (aka Mark Bittman). Given the choice, I prefer blending my pastry dough by hand and chopping my vegetables with my right hand man, the sharp knife. As an aside, and as a general rule, I love anything by Mark Bittman. Last year Justin surprised me with a copy of his new book How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. Hands down the best surprise gift. Ever. My loyalty to Mr Bittman is unwavering. I just don't share the same loyalty to the food processor.

Case in point:

The bottom of the pile ended up as raw potato mush while the top as huge barely chopped up chunks. In retrospect we should have gone with the grater attachment instead of the blade. Live and learn.

Forging ahead, Justin sauteed an assortment of peppers (red and green bell, sweet, and jalapeno) and onion in our trusty cast iron skillet along with some okra for good measure.

When the onions were good and translucent, we added the potatoes. In an effort to recreate the smoky flavor from Kozy's, we went in search of an ingredient on hand that might do the trick. The best we could come up with on such short notice was a bottle of Shiner Smokehaus. With a tagline that reads: It's Smokin' Good, we figured it was worth a try.

While the addition of the beer didn't do any harm to the flavor of the hash, it didn't do it any favors either, and certainly didn't result in a "Smokin' Good" taste. Even with our tremendous assortment of peppers, our hash was just plain bland. We added black pepper, cilantro, cumin; all to no avail. The problem was in the texture. That darn over-processed potato mush just wouldn't get crispy like good hash browns are supposed to do.

Again in retrospect, we might have had some decent potato pancakes on our hands if we'd planned ahead before filling up the skillet. Alas, hindsight is 20x20.

We forced the hash down for lunch, like little Oliver Twist with his gruel. Believe me, neither of us caused an uproar with the gentlemen by asking for more. And just to kick healthy veg even harder when it was down, come dinner time we surrendered ourselves to Gattitown for a far from plant-strong pizza feast.

I had one last trick in my bag to salvage the unpalatable hash for Sunday dinner. Perhaps if I could somehow achieve a crunchy top layer-- I spread the leftovers in my casserole dish, sprinkled on some bread crumbs and a layer of cheddar cheese and baked it in a super hot oven (450) until the cheese started to turned crisp and golden brown.

But those stubborn potatoes simply refused to get crispy. With some salsa and a fresh avocado, it was still just mediocre. All that effort for nothing. You win some, you lose some, I guess.

1 comment:

  1. Good idea for smoky flavor: smoked paprika. It makes a huge difference. Also, consider chipotle chilies canned in adobo sauce. They're spicy, but the adobo sauce delivers a huge smokey punch!