Sunday, October 2, 2011

English Hash - Recipes from 'back when'

While browsing through a dusty box recently, I discovered an old recipe book in which many of the recipes were handwritten.  That really means a group of recipes used by someone’s grandmother or mother for feeding the family or at church socials at a time when life was simple and the food was uncluttered by a myriad of chemicals we have to deal with in today’s world. 

Being a curious person, and because I had a few pieces of previously prepared beef and also being a big fan of Hash, I selected a recipe to try even though I was uncertain how to measure a “little bit” or “a pinch or two” so I began my adventure, undaunted about the unknown and was rather surprised (pleased) by the outcome. If you are curious, you can begin with the following:

                                                  English Hash
                                                  Circa 1934

“Cut in small dice one pound of roast beef, free from gristle, but mix with a small quantity of the fat part.  Fry one finely chopped onion in butter to a slight brown color, then add a heaping tablespoon of flour and fry together for two minutes.  Then add a cup of light gravy or rich soup stock, and stir well to obtain a sauce; add the beef and a tablespoon of ketchup and a dash of Worcestershire sauce.  Put this hash in a deep metal or fireproof china dish, cover it with mashed potatoes, to which the yolk of two eggs have been added, sprinkle with bread crumbs and melted butter, and bake for ten minutes in the oven so that the potatoes will be well browned”.

This is an exact replication of the recipe including the punctuation of the sentences. It seems sometimes when I happen upon old recipes, that we could do well by returning to the uncomplicated methods of creating foods for our pleasure, therefore I suggest considering  “a little bit of this “ and “a pinch or two” as being an integral part of your creative cooking process.

Clark Williams