In this the bleakest that months, just how to Eat is comforting itself through a bowl of corned beef hash. Yet with fried potatoes or mash? bean or cabbage? and also does it require bread ~ above the side?


The hash report … why don’t you shot corned beef hash? Photograph: young name Lee/Alamy stock Photo/Alamy share Photo
The hash report … why nothing you shot corned beef hash? Photograph: martin Lee/Alamy stock Photo/Alamy stock Photo

Tinned corned beef* is a product that resists reinvention. Slouched on glowing yellow beanbags in the “ideas hub” at an eastern London branding agency, the shining marketing sparks charged with this task need to look on in despair together a cornucopia the 1970s handle foods, from the Arctic roll to Findus crispy pancakes, take on an ironic gloriole of #noshtalgia, when corned beef remains beyond the pale.

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Indelibly attached with the grey britain of postwar rationing, corned beef suffers from ugly snobbery. “So stigmatised, the is deemed only fit for pensioners or the unemployed,” as one fan once wrote in the Guardian (note: Essex’s Becontree Estate to be nicknamed Corned Beef City as a dig at the poverty of that residents). Today, corned beef is most likely to crop up, not in recipes in glossy newspaper (high-quality traditional makers are extremely rare), however in inescapably demoralising list of what you have to donate to food banks or stockpile in the occasion of a chaotic no-deal Brexit.

It is a food dogged by an aura that crisis, deprivation and also controversy. End the centuries, it has been blamed because that exacerbating every little thing from the ireland potato scarcity to obesity levels in Tonga. In recent years, it has been embroiled in scandals about deforestation and slave work in south America, and also the contamination of beef supplies with horsemeat and also veterinary painkillers. Look previous that dread PR and find a corned beef brand the reports a firm commitment come sustainability, and, even then, you have to wrestle her shopping into submission due to a bizarre insistence among manufacturers on utilizing those monster tapered tins, opened up with tiny keys that frequently do not work. Dogged consumers space left digging meat the end from between razor-sharp edges v a kitchen knife, having finally prised open up that obtusely shaped have the right to with a tin opener … or a hammer and chisel.

Yet, in spite of all the baggage, say the words: corned beef hash, and, immediately, a significant proportion of britain will begin to drool – transported by a meal the can administer comfort in even the bleakest that mid-winters. Corned beef hash satisfies something deep in the freezing north European soul. However only if that is done right, i m sorry is where exactly how to Eat – the collection examining how best to eat Britain’s favourite foods items – come in.

* no to be confused with what american (and, historically, the Irish) contact “corned beef”, recognized in Britain together salt beef. That is a an extremely different food come canned corned beef: salted beef offcuts, minced and also suspended in their own fat, sterilised and shipped come Europe from southern America.

Mashed potato v fried potatoes


America an initial … the prettied-up us version of corned beef hash, complete with the dread parsley. Photograph: Alamy share PhotoTalking of transatlantic confusion (nay, cultural imperialism), in the results of Britain’s early-2010s obsession with trashy us diner food, be careful when bespeak corned beef hash. The is now generally rendered together a chaos of hard-fried potatoes, onions and also salt beef.

Objectively, in ~ its best, this us interloper might be a tastier dish, a remarkable creation, however it is not what we generally expect the corned beef hash. The is unfamiliar and, in its lack of density and heft, gravy and soothing mash, the comforting characteristics of the UK original are absent. That is a gastronomic key of a dish that, instead, have to be the most basic of reassuring nursery foods. Metaphorically and also psychologically speaking, it is a stiff pat top top the back from a confident, stylish new Yorker, when, deep down, what you really want is a soft, all-enveloping hug from mummy (AKA the mashed potato).

There is some intermediate (con)fusion the the US-UK methods. Some people simmer the potatoes and also other ingredients in stock till soft or great the potatoes like a hotpot and, variously, range bake lock (and even cover the hash with cheese and also grill it; this is no a shepherd’s pie!). But, to be blunt, all those approaches are wrong. This dish is a mashed potato-based meal.

There is some ide that the basic, classic form of hash – fried onions, mash, chopped corned beef – is many prevalent in the north-west that England. If this is true, the confirms the region’s management in this field. If you wish (it is a bit of a faff), you can chef then fried food off the mash mixture in patties and break those up prior to serving – in bespeak to construct a little welcome crunch into the hash – but, in ~ root, the corned beef hash should be a huge, soft hill that you have the right to smoothly motor v with a spoon.


Fundamentally, corned beef hash is all around the gravy. The gravy is the mighty meaty wave, the savoury tsunami, the rip current that have to wash over and drown this otherwise bland dish in flavour. It have to sweep you off your feet. Begin with a butter, garlic, onion and beef stock base, and also then freestyle with whatever you have to hand: old red wine, brown sauce, soy, Worcestershire sauce, to broaden and include 3D depth to that canvas.


A tenderness tingle in ~ the edge of her hash is no unwelcome (tabasco, grain mustard etc), yet cook the in as you fried food your initial onions. That will certainly take the sheet of it. This is no a dish to enliven with fresh chillies or warm sauce. Both would clash horribly v the gravy. Any type of heat need to shimmer in the distance, method behind the gravy’s savoury thwack. A small spicy kick, a tenderness underlying warmth is fine, something palpably chilli hot is not.



Sunny-side increase … eggs room a must, back this hash could also use an ext gravy. Photograph: Woman’s Weekly/Rex/ShutterstockYes, yes and also thrice yes. Fried no poached, please. This is no a food in which worry for your arteries have to figure. Be in no doubt, we are troughing here. This is a enjoy the meal that have to immobilise you. Leaving you bloated and also beached. Clear her diary. However that egg is no mere gluttony, it makes culinary sense, too. The soft yolk add to a class of richness and the structure of the fried white is a creamy counterpoint to the starchy potato.

Vegetable, sides and also garnishes

Does corned beef hash need any? Arguably, no. Add a condiment , and you have a finish meal. However, there are certain vegetables that will lug a brand-new mineral dimension to the dish. That is rather prefer putting a conservatory ~ above a perfect liveable suburban semi. It might be nice. Yet it is not essential.


Shredded, buttered cabbage, sprouts or other veg (eg broccoli) that uses a pointed iron-rich tang.

A little scattered crispy bacon or crispy onions: both the which include a some textural va va voom and, respectively, complementary class of braided or sweet flavour.

Pickled red cabbage or beetroot; your vinegary sharpness is a kind of fastidious punctuation of this otherwise overly verbose, long-winded paragraph. Every brings an interpretation and clarity come the dish, regular clearing her palate (and mind) prior to the next meat ’n’ potatoes assault.


Peas, prefer carrots, room ineffectual in a corned beef hash, uneven you add them by the bucket (turning it into a really different dish). The note of sweetness they carry out is also meek come assert itself.

Fresh or fried bell peppers have actually no ar in this food … or in food typically (see also, oven-roasted tomatoes).

Sweetcorn: no.

Baked beans: is that middling, juvenile sweetness really adequate yin to the yang of the hash? In HTE’s opinion, it is not.

Asparagus is more than likely the most overrated vegetable on planet and, in a dish that you are going come tackle with a spoon and fork, is a logistical minefield. If you require to gain a knife out to cut anything in a corned beef hash, you have actually failed at the dish.

Creamed spinach (or any creamed vegetable) will make one unholy, murky mess of your gravy; think: Exxon Valdez-style pollution.

The fallback the middling pub chefs and pretentious residence cooks, this dish does not require any titivation v twee, tied majority of chives or fronds the flat-leaf parsley. No adds anything to a hash, various other than one unpleasant sense that someone has emptied their lawnmower over your tea.

Bread: ordinarily, HTE is firmly in the bread-with-everything, carbs-on-carbs camp. But, c’mon, this is an unusually filling meal. Offer it with buttered sourdough or soda bread is overkill.



Red alarm … the only condiment you need with corned beef hash (serving suggestion, writer’s own). Photograph: Alamy share PhotoYou will sometimes see human being (Scandinavians, mostly), suggesting that a hash should be served with a dollop that hollandaise or béarnaise, however that seems an unnecessarily rich enhancement to such a gutsy dish. One egg yolk is as far as you need to go down that path. Otherwise, stick come tomato sauce. The piquant sweet is just the pick-me-up, the regular pep, you require when tackling this mountain selection of meat and also potatoes.


Spoon, fork and a large, deep (to maintain all that gravy) wide-rimmed bowl. That wide-rim is a useful ledge on which you deserve to splodge your ketchup and then conveniently emboldened in-and-out of it, as you view fit.


There is a hardcore that regard hash together a hangover restorative, but, for HTE, the is too heavy for the role. This is no a food to obtain you moving, but one that, on a filthy winter’s night, ~ warming the marrow of your bones must lull you into a carb-coma such the you room pleasantly i can not qualify of doing anything much more strenuous than getting to for the far control. Corned beef hash is her tea, no your dinner and also – rarely lazy brunches personally – certainly not a breakfast dish.

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Nothing too fizzy: a glass that red, tea, water, a pale cask ale. You need all available stomach space. Acquisition on unnecessary carbon dioxide will only bring about indigestion.