Monday, March 11, 2013

An Apologetic Addendum: An Ode to Ketchup

     

       I received a phone call from my dad this morning.  He read my post about his hash recipe.  I was scolded.  Although I had mentioned ketchup, its value was not stressed enough.  He also said he wanted a picture.  Seriously.
       I come from a long line of ketchup mongers.  Obviously, there is my dad.  Then, there is my brother.  And then, uh, there is me.  And my son, Samuel. Yes, I admit it.  Below are some items that simply must, must have ketchup.  My level of enjoyment goes down tremendously if these items are without it:

My dad's potato hash
French fries
burgers
meat loaf
a steak that isn't well seasoned
fried shrimp
fried chicken (yes, I am absolutely serious!)
a chicken biscuit
a Philly cheesesteak or roast beef sandwich
mixed with the sauce that comes with a "blooming onion", "onion petals", etc.
homemade chili gets about 1/4 cup while cooking
and the list goes on......

There are some items that I used to accompany with ketchup:
Scrambled eggs now get hot sauce
Grilled cheese sandwiches now get dipped into tomato soup

You DO NOT, let me repeat, DO NOT EVER put ketchup on

HOT DOGS!

That is like putting it on a bologna sandwich.
Ew.
That was for my husband and sons.

My son Samuel likes to mix ketchup and mustard together to make a dip for potato chips.  He was grossing everyone out at lunch one day, but I could not say anything because I used to do the same thing!!!!!!

Sadly, today's ketchup seems to be getting sweeter and sweeter and I am getting pickier with my brands.The brand above is the only one I am buying right now, but I am getting suspicious with them as well.  It seems that more and more companies have been tampering with their recipes to save money and I CAN TASTE IT!!!!!!  Sorry.  I am a little passionate about my ketchup. How about you?
I have a recipe for homemade ketchup.
I may try making my own and see if I like it better.
I'll keep you posted.

I love you, Dad!

Can flavorless food be eaten without salt?  Or is there any taste in the white of an egg?  My soul refuses to touch them; they are loathsome food to me.
Job 6:6-7

~Jennifer




Thursday, March 7, 2013

Fried Potato Hash



    One dish that I grew up on and that was always a family favorite was my dad's potato hash.  His hash recipe basically consisted of diced, leftover meat (like a ham or roast), onions, and potatoes that were crisp-fried to perfection.  Sometimes he would add the occasional green pepper or chopped mushrooms.  Two things were certain:  a bottle of ketchup was in order and there would not be enough.  We loved the stuff and today my family is no different.  My son, Harrison will frequently ask, "Mom, may I make a fry?"  He'll get out a potato or two, and fry that thing up with whatever he can find.  I've seen him throw corn, hot sauce, and even lunch meat into the stuff!
     Over the years, I have experimented with different ways of making my dad's hash and have several tricks and serving suggestions I'd like to share.

Ingredients:

  • an entire bag of potatoes (any kind/any size!) I realize this seems like a lot, but they are so good, they'll get gobbled quickly.  They also make a great breakfast for the next day and can be frozen for casseroles, etc.
  • 1 to 3 onions
  • cooking oil
  • salt, pepper, and whatever seasonings you like
optional:
  • leftover meat
  • mushrooms
  • peppers
  • anything else you think sounds good!
     One of the first things to figure out when making a good potato hash is how to get your potatoes soft on the inside, but crispy on the outside.  If you dump everything onto your griddle or frying pan at the same time, your onions etc. will be charred black before you get your potatoes finished! Below are two tricks to remedy both problems.

Precook your potatoes before frying them by either baking them or cooking them in the microwave for at least forty minutes.  If you decide to precook them in the microwave; dice them first, toss them in about 1/4 cup of oil, and then stir every ten minutes until they are fork tender.  Because we had baked potatoes with our dinner two days ago, my daughter went ahead and baked the entire 10 pound bag.  After they cooled, she placed them into two ziplock bags and refrigerated them.  (My son, Harrison seldom precooks his potatoes because he only uses a couple at a time for a single serving - but you could always zap one in the microwave first if you want to speed things up.)

Cook your onions, peppers, meat, etc. separately and then mix them with your potatoes at the end. This makes it easier to control your ingredients' individual cooking time requirements.
When you are cooking a large amount of potatoes like this, fry them in manageable batches.  Too many potatoes on your griddle will make it more difficult to get them browned.  It also makes more of a mess because they'll keep falling off the sides of your griddle or frying pan!



                 Two-day-old baked potatoes.  They slice more easily when they are cold.


First I slice my cold, baked potatoes into medallions, and then stack the circles to cut them into fourths.


                                                        My taters are ready to fry.


Next, I diced up half of a large, leftover green pepper and another half of a new one.


Then, I diced three, small onions and dumped them in with my peppers.  If I had some leftover meat, I would have diced that up and mixed with these veggies as well.  Since we had leftover barbecue, I'll be using that today.  Instead of frying the already slow-cooked pork with the hash, I'll simply reheat it and allow my family to either serve it on top of the hash or on the side.

 

This is my jar of bacon grease. Most of the time I use regular cooking oil.  Regular cooking oil will allow more of the flavor of the vegetables and potatoes to come through. The bacon grease will give your potatoes a wonderful, brown color as well as add some rustic, bacony flavor.  I save our bacon grease by emptying the little drawer under my griddle into the jar whenever I fry bacon.  I read that you should really refrigerate this grease.  (Uh, I've been keeping this in my pantry for several weeks at a time and we have survived thus far.  I suppose I'd better put the stuff in the fridge just in case though, huh?) The bacon grease gives me another frying option and also helps me save money by getting more out of my bacon.


                                  The bacon grease instantly turns clear on the hot griddle.


                                                  The peppers and onions "before".


                                                     The peppers and onions "after".

I sauteed these at 350 degrees.  You want the peppers to be soft and the onions to be translucent (not black and bitter).  After they were finished, I scooped them into a bowl and moved them to the side.


                                                           The potatoes "before"


                                                             The potatoes "after"

I only cooked half the potatoes at a time.  You would think that the bacon grease would make everything very salty, but it doesn't.  I added salt and pepper (as well as some garlic powder) to them as they cooked.

Another trick:
Do not move the potatoes around too much once you begin frying them.  They need time to get browned and crispy.  You also do not want "mashed" fried potatoes.  Too much movement will tear them up!  Allow them to sit for 3 to 4 minutes before you flip them over and slide them around.  If your potatoes start sticking, add more oil.



After I removed my potatoes from the griddle, I mixed in half of my onion and pepper mixture.  I'll add the other half when I finish the rest of my potatoes so they'll be more evenly distributed.  After both batches were done, I dumped the entire thing into a pretty bowl and served with reheated barbecued Boston Butt and my husband's homemade coleslaw!  I didn't even need the ketchup with the barbecue on top!  (Note to self: post mother-in-law's/ husband's awesome coleslaw recipe.)


My absolute favorite way to have hash is in the morning with a fried egg on top and a piece of buttered toast.  Add a cup of coffee and a little juice....................big smile.  Oh, and don't forget the ketchup!

Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.
Deuteronomy 5:16

~Jennifer