Monday, 5 November 2012

Red Flannel Hash

Here is a fine old dish. The name comes from the way the beets bleed all over the potatoes, like a red flannel shirt that got mixed in with the white laundry by mistake. It's always been delicious, but I added some fennel seed and cayenne and thought it was better than ever. The poached eggs are classic, and really make it a complete meal. The two of us ate it all, since we are apparently under the impression we are lumberjacks, but if you have a more modest appetite or serve it with other things, it will serve four. The stuff in the jar is my home-made chow-chow, another classic old-timer of a recipe. Ketchup would also go just fine.

As you may be able to tell from the photo, I am finally getting better at making poached eggs. Add a dollop of vinegar to the water, drop them in very gently, keep it at a steady simmer, allow 3 to 4 minutes for a soft egg and 8 to 10 minutes for the way Mr. Ferdzy likes them. Time them. Yes, I know. What a waste of good eggs. Oh well.

2 to 4 servings
1 hour 15 minutes - 30 to 40 minutes prep time

4 medium (500 grams, 1 pound) beets
6 medium (1 kg, 2 pounds) potatoes
1 large onion
3 to 4 cloves of garlic
2 stalks celery
2 to 4 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fennel seeds (optional)
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne or flaked red chiles (optional)

Wash the beets and trim off any leaves or stems. Put them in a pot with water to cover and boil for approximately 40 minutes, until tender. Meanwhile, wash the potatoes and cut them into 1 cm dice. Put them in a pot with water to cover generously, and boil for 15 minutes. Drain well.

Peel and chop the onion. Peel and mince the garlic. Wash, trim and chop the celery. When the beets are tender, drain them and rinse them under cold water until they can be handled and the peels slip off. Cut them in dice of similar size to the other vegetables.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet. Fry the potatoes until nicely browned all over, turning and mixing every few minutes or so as they brown. Heat should be medium-high; adjust so that they brown at a steady rate without scorching. Add a bit more oil as necessary. Once they start to brown, add the onions and celery. Once the potatoes are well browned, and the onion and celery is soft and cooked down, add the garlic, salt, fennel seeds and cayenne, and mix in well. Add the diced beets and mix in well. Continue cooking for 3 or 4 minutes more, turning and mixing as needed, until the beets are hot through. Serve with poached eggs, if desired.

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