Hash heaven

Look beyond corned beef for inventive, delicious hash

Thank goodness Clark Haass, of Portland, got hooked on hash. It resulted in his cookbook, “Hashcapades: The Art of the Perfect Hash Adventure.”

“Hashcapades” has more than 30 recipes for simple-to-gourmet chopped beef, pork, poultry, fish, seafood and vegetable hashes.

“It’s the only book of its kind in the world, except for one about corned beef from an Englishwoman,” Haass told us in a recent phone interview.

Haass, 49, isn’t a chef. He’s a business development expert for Intel Corp., but he’s also a foodie who loves to eat out and cook at home.

Haass’ obsession with hash began with a plate of smoked trout hash at North Portland’s now-closed Roux restaurant. It was different; it was delicious, Haass reminisced with us.

“It was awesome. Amazing. Growing up, I’d had lamb and potato hashes, and I’d had corned beef hash. My experience was miniscule, as opposed to the vast world of hash,” he said.

His waitress on that fateful day revealed that one of the reasons the moist hash has such rich flavor was a dollop of creme fraiche in the mixture.

Haass tried to recreate the fish hash at home, using smoked salmon, which was easier to find than smoked trout. It was so good, he entered his recipe in an Oregonian newspaper contest and won third place (see recipe, Page D2).

More experimentation followed, and Haass started to blog about hash, too. His new hobby led to his cookbook that categorizes recipes as “Hash 101,” which is essentially leftovers, chopped up and fried together quickly — like chopped cooked potatoes and leftover roast beef or corned beef (see recipe, Page D2).

His Pizza Hash gives new life to last night’s slices (see recipe).

Haass’ other two categories of hash are “Hash Plus,” which involves preparing one or more of the main ingredients from scratch, like fresh diced potatoes, bacon and onions, which are added to leftover chopped chicken.

He calls his third method “Hash Gourmet,” which is everything made from scratch, plus an added sauce or a more elaborate presentation, like the classic poached egg on top of each serving.

“When you’ve made hash from scratch, you’ll wonder why you ever touched a can (of corned beef hash),” Haass said.

Haass sets up what he calls “hashcapades” in Portland and elsewhere, which are monthly weekend brunches with friends and fellow hash devotees. He finds a restaurant that serves hash, among other things, and friends and blog followers are welcome to attend.

“It’s all about people sharing and socializing over good food. The three rules for the hashcapade are: 1. Have fun; 2. Order whatever you want; and 3. See No. 1,” he told us.

But we suspect Haass really wants you to try the hash. He’s learned how good and satisfying it can be, no matter what it is.

“It’s not just for breakfast. It’s truly something that’s good for lunch or dinner. Generally, it’s chopped meat and potatoes and spices, but it can be so much more than that, only limited by your imagination,” Haass said.

Hash in Bend

Hash is always on the menu at the McKay Cottage Restaurant (www.themckaycottage.com, open every day from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m.) Owner Pam Morgan told us why she loves hash.

“Hashes are such a great idea. They’re nice because you get all the flavors in one bite. Instead of an egg dish here and potatoes there, you have it all together,” she said.

Morgan told us that the most popular item on the McKay Cottage Restaurant menu is the “Baja Chicken Hash Stack.”

“It’s been on the menu for five years, and I don’t think we’ll ever take it off. It’s hash, layered between crispy corn tortillas, with poblano peppers, corn, potatoes, onion, roasted pepper and cheese, and topped with poached eggs and hollandaise,” she said.

“Cascade Hash” (see recipe) is Morgan’s riff on a Bobby Flay omelet recipe.

“I thought it would be good as a hash. It’s diced Yukon Gold potatoes, cooked with manchego cheese, roasted poblano chili peppers, and applewood smoked bacon, topped again with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce, which is great, because the egg is runny, but you can have them scrambled, or over medium,” she said.

The secret to a great hash, whether cooked at home or made in a restaurant, according to both Haass and Morgan, is a quick saute of all the ingredients together. Serve the hash immediately, or you risk turning the hash into mush.

“Have really good, high heat and just enough oil to crisp everything up, and do it fast. We prep everything, and have it ready to go into the hash. Yukon Golds are cooked al dente, then we finish them on the (flat) grill at McKay Cottage. If you cook all the ingredients too long, or too slowly, they can get mushy,” Morgan warned.

Tidbits

• According to Merriam-Webster, “hash” comes from a French word, hacher, “to cut.”

• “Hashcapades: The Art of the Perfect Hash Adventure,” by Clark Haass, 2012 ($22.95) is available in hardback on his website, www.hashcapades.com, and at Powell’s Bookstore in Portland (www.powells.com). The e-book version is available at iTunes, Amazon, and Barnes&Noble, among others.