Tuesday, November 29, 2011

When life gives you unending leftovers...make Hash

I do love Thanksgiving.  For the past few years we've been hosting our families in our home and it's been fabulous.  I really love planning and cooking for two days in order to see our extended families enjoying one another's company.  This is the only time every year that they all get together under one roof and it makes my heart smile.

Since I do the bulk of the cooking, the bulk of the leftovers end up staying with us.  It's kind of exciting for the first couple of days, but it gets old rather quickly.  And with only two of us eating said leftovers, they last longer than most microbiologists would recommend.

With our one week deadline looming, we have to get serious about getting this stuff eaten.  My favorite way of "cleaning out the fridge" so to speak, is making hash.  It's the perfect way to spruce up tired leftovers and Thanksgiving leftovers lend themselves particularly well.

After combing through the fridge my ingredient lineup included roasted root vegetables, turkey, gravy, fresh herbs, and a kale-swiss cheese-crouton dish I made a couple of days ago.

To make hash of any kind, everything should be nicely chopped so it mixes evenly in the pan and on your plate.  I decided to add some chopped red onion to the mix to liven up the flavor.  I preheated my cast iron skillet over medium heat, threw in some bacon grease (cuz everyone should keep a container of bacon grease on hand!) and started sautéing my onions.

When my onions were soft I added my leftover root vegetables.  My goal here was to get a little life and flavor back in to them.  A higher heat allowed them to get a little caramelization back on their edges.  I then threw in the turkey, herbs, and kale mixture.  I turned the heat back down to medium again and stirred everything to mix well.  Since this food had already been cooked before, I simply wanted to reheat and blend the flavors.  I now had a nice fond going in the bottom of the skillet.  I added the gravy, turned the heat down to low, and threw a lid on it.  After a couple of minutes I removed the lid and gave the bottom of the skillet a good scraping with a wooden spatula to get that yummy brown crust mixed back in to the hash.  That's it...hash is done!  I removed it from the heat and covered it to keep it warm.

I love poached eggs and in my opinion, no self respecting hash would be eaten without a cap of poached egg.  In my household we have two differing views however on how long to cook a poached egg.  I like mine medium (about 3 1/2 minutes) so the whites are cooked and the yolk is still runny.  My husband is more of a 4 1/2 - 5 minute guy...well done so to speak.  He likes the yolk to be just slightly soft but all solid.  Poaching eggs is intimidating for some people, but it's really not that complicated.  There are as many opinions on how to poach an egg as there are eggs, so I'm going to tell you how I do it.  It works every time for me.

My method for poaching eggs:
1.  Start with a small saucepan filled with a few inches of water and a good slug of white vinegar. The vinegar helps hold the egg whites together, and actually gives a nice mild acid flavor to the finished product.
 2.  Bring your water to a boil.  While you wait for your water to boil, crack your eggs in to individual small bowls or cups.
3.  After your water reaches a boil, turn the heat down to its lowest simmer.  As soon as your water stops bubbling, slide each egg carefully in to the water.  Don't be alarmed by the ethereal look of your whites at this point.
4.  Cover the pan and start your timer.  Timing your eggs takes a little practice, but as I mentioned, 3 1/2 minutes usually gets me a medium poached (large) egg.
5.  When the time is up, remove your eggs from the heat and check them.  You can carefully remove them with a slotted spoon and give them a little jiggle or soft poke with your finger to see if they are done to your liking.  If so, serve and enjoy.  If not, you can put them back in to your pan of hot water, cover, and cook for another 30-60 seconds.
6.  If you want them to look pretty, place the cooked eggs on a paper towel to drain and gently cut away the filmy white parts that didn't set.
7.   If you want to save them for later, you can put the cooked eggs in to a container of cold water, cover, and keep in the refrigerator.  When you're ready to eat them simply slide them back in to a pan of hot water for a few seconds to rewarm.

So there you have it.  Our dinner last night was Thanksgiving Hash with poached eggs.  I even incorporated a dollop of leftover Porchlight cranberry sauce.  It was delicious!  Just one more meal and we'll have our leftovers all polished off...one more thing to be thankful for.  Until next year!

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