Corned Beef Hash Cakes and my grandmother’s kitchen
I keep reading that supposedly retro food is coming back into fashion. The ‘experts’ are putting it down to our current economic climate, whether people are trying to save money or just looking for a taste of childhood comfort.
Now, I’m either so behind the times that they’re catching up with me again or I’m leading the way, because meals such as corned beef hash have never really left my table. On the days when I just want a plate of comfort then the dishes from my grandmother’s kitchen are the ones I turn to.
When I look back, it seems that we spent all of our time in her kitchen. I know now that it was a combination of it being the warmest room in the house, plus things just took so much longer then - I remember her standing for hours over a twin tub doing the laundry, and that was considered a time saving device. I remember the huge enamel roasting tins, my grandfather stirring scrambled eggs on a Sunday morning, islands of thick porridge floating in their sea of milk and a good sprinkle of brown sugar. I remember toasting bread over the fire, sugar sandwiches and bowls of tomato soup. Stews, pies and thick slices of bread and butter with pretty much everything.
The salt content may be high and the fat levels not exactly diet friendly but corned beef hash is one of my all time favourite meals. Though corned beef is not as cheap as it was it still makes for a very economic meal and a good way to use up any leftover mashed potato - and I have already confessed my inability to make a normal quantity of mash. A plate of hash and baked beans can make any problem disappear for a while, or if, like my dad, you prefer it with a fried egg then you have a breakfast fit for a king.
There seems to be some debate whether the potatoes should be mashed or cubed but, to my mind, mashed is the only way. Though if you are looking to use up some leftover boiled potatoes then you could do worse than cubing them, mixing them with corned beef and a little fried onion and then frying it all together in a pan.
I usually make this as one large hash, slung in the oven to get all nice and crispy but on a day where I was faced with an obscene amount of mashed potato, I decided to make them into largish cakes and freeze half for a quick meal another day. These cooked well from frozen and a cold one made a welcome change from a hastily slapped together cheese sandwich to Rich’s lunch box the next day.
Corned Beef Hash cakes
800g mashed potato
340g tin corned beef
1 egg, beaten
Remove the corned beef from the tin and roughly mash with a fork. Add to a bowl, along with the mashed potato, pepper and 50g of breadcrumbs. Mix well, ensuring that everything is combined well. You may find it easier to use your hands, in which case consider a pair of disposable gloves.
Set out two shallow bowls, one for the beaten egg and one for the remaining 50g of breadcrumbs.
Shape the potato mixture into 8 rounds and flatten slightly.
Dip both sides of each cake in the egg and then roll in breadcrumbs.
Set on a plate and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (longer if possible) to allow them to firm.
Brush each side with a little oil and then grill under a high heat for 4/5 minutes on each side until brown and heated through. Alternatively fry in 2 tbsps oil on each side until golden and crisp.
You can prepare in advance and freeze at the end of step 4. Place the cakes on a baking tray lined with a sheet of greaseproof paper. Pop into the freezer on the tray and once frozen, place portions in separate bags (I do mine in sets of 4). Cook from frozen in an oven preheated to 190c and bake for approximately 25 minutes.