Corned Beef Hash

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The last few weeks have felt simultaneously empty of any significant events and incredibly full. I suppose it’s because Jonji and I are currently in the process of many things, and therefore have nothing to show for our efforts. Yet.

Before I begin, I just have to ask: does anyone in the Santa Cruz area have (or know someone with) a large yard or barn that is fit for weddings? We’ve found a couple places we like but have quickly realized how insanely expensive venues are, and would much rather find an off-the-grid location. Let me know!

I’ve come to realize that I am terrible at documenting anything other than cats, food and, strangely enough, random bits of LA that I like to anthropomorphize. The shock of finding a sad sidewalk or a happy tree-bag-thing-turned-slug is enough to get me to whip out my phone, grinning maniacally, and take a picture. Even my fear of people seeing me take a photo in public isn’t enough to stop this weird craze of mine. These little faces deserve to be shared with the world. Or, at least, the small part of the world that reads this blog.

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Dan came to visit this past weekend, bringing with him quite a bit of rain. Naturally, Jonji and I went all-out to make his trip extra exciting. Except not. We went to the gym, walked and shopped on Abbott Kinney, drank plenty of coffee, and walked over to Little Fatty, our newest neighborhood restaurant and bar. I added a new drink to their menu, the Ginlet, after our server failed to ignore my stumble over the incredibly hard to pronounce “Gimlet,” and who then proceeded to repeat it several times over the course of the night. Overall, a great weekend! And, of course, I took zero photos.

Other than that, nothing too noteworthy has happened lately. I’ve been working on making the most of my last semester at Otis, getting crafty and trying to design outside my comfort zone, plus participating in an outside design competition AND attempting to get myself job-ready. The last few storms have encouraged me to stay inside, which is great because I have to anyway. Work just feels better when you can hear rain outside your window. Jonji has also been working hard, as always. He enjoyed his Family Medicine rotation and will soon be moving onto his final rotation, Internal Medicine. He has done extremely well this year and continues to impress me with his passion for people and medicine.

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This recipe was inspired by Sqirl’s vegetable hash, which involves beets. I prefer my dinners a little less sweet, so I opted for butternut squash and therefore a milder sweetness. Making the corned beef the day before requires some foresight, but it’s worth it. Once that’s done the rest of the dish is quite easy! Also, if the crème fraîche is putting you off, I highly encourage you to take the extra step and make your own; it takes approximately 5 minutes or less. Bonus recipe below!

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Corned Beef Hash
serves 4–5

2 lbs beef brisket
1 onion
2 whole cloves
2 dried chiles
6 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves

1 medium butternut squash
2–3 yellow potatoes
1 red onion, peeled and sliced into quarters
6 scallions
3/4 cup cheddar cheese
salt and pepper

crème fraîche (see below)
freshly grated horseradish
salt and pepper
lemon juice

The day before you plan to make the hash, rinse the brisket and place in a large pot. Cover with cold water and add salt (about 1 tbsp or so).

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Bring the brisket water to a boil, skimming off any foam that rises. Peel the onion and cut it in half, then stick a clove in each half. Once the water boils, turn off the heat and add the onion halves, dried chiles (I like to use chiles de Arbol), thyme, and bay leaves. Cover the pot with foil and a lid and cook in the oven for 4 hours, until fork-tender. Turn the oven up to 400°F. Place the brisket on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Once cool, refrigerate with a bit of the broth overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Peel the butternut squash, scrape out the seeds, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks. Do the same with the potatoes. Toss with olive oil to coat, plus 1 tsp salt and some pepper. Spread on a lined baking sheet and roast, stirring a few times, until easily pricked with a fork, 30–40 minutes. Halfway through, add the onion quarters. When done, cut the onion into bite-sized pieces.

Grate some horseradish (I do a couple of tablespoons per cup of crème fraîche) into the crème fraîche. Add a couple pinches of salt, some pepper, and a couple drops of lemon juice. Taste for seasoning, adding more of anything to your preference.

Slice the scallions on the diagonal and set aside. Grate the cheese. Tear the corned beef into bite-sized pieces. In a large bowl, mix the squash, potatoes, onion, scallions, beef, and cheese together.

Heat 2 tbsp butter in your largest pan over medium heat (you may need to use two pans). Add the hash to the pan and cook, undisturbed, for a few minutes. Scrape the bottom and stir and cook for a few more minutes, until the cheese is melted. Taste for seasoning.

Serve hot, in bowls, with the horseradish crème fraîche at the table. Also excellent with a fried egg on top. Enjoy!

Bonus Recipe: Crème Fraîche
makes 1 cup

Heat 1 cup of heavy cream with 1 tbsp buttermilk in a small pan over low heat until lukewarm. Pour into a jar, cover slightly with a dish towel, and leave for 18–24 hours. Stir, then taste. If it’s sour enough to your taste, refrigerate. If it’s not sour enough, leave for a few more hours, then refrigerate. And that’s it!

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