We’re venturing today into the realm of the simple, the comforting and the humble of American culinary history. Yes, folks, we’re talking about hash. It would be easy to dismiss this rustic dish as rather ho-hum and unsophisticated, but that would be a very big mistake. Sure, there was probably a time when hash really was just whatever foodstuffs or leftovers happened to be available that were then thrown together with very little thought. Hash’s meager beginnings have their roots in basic subsistence foods. It was this or starve.
But that’s all changed. Hash has been rediscovered and become quite the little star on upscale restaurant menus, sporting ingredients like lobster, truffles and caviar. Well, we’re not going quite that upscale here, but this really is mighty good stuff. I saw Ina Garten make it awhile back and knew I had to try it.
My version uses tender chunks of chicken thighs that are pan roasted with potatoes, red peppers, onions and mushrooms. Lots fragrant herbs get thrown in, and just before serving it’s drizzled with balsamic vinegar and then topped with grated cheese and sour cream. I even tried a version with the traditional fried egg and that was awesome too.
The other thing I did was to swap out the chicken breasts with chicken thighs. This not only tastes better (the thighs stay moist and tender), but it eliminated an entire step in the recipe as the thighs can cook along with the vegetables. And since I didn't use the skin on the chicken, I swapped out the basil (which roasts under the skin) for chives.
Truth be told, I love hash. I love the idea of hash. And I do love this particular hash. It might be of humble origin, but hash is now officially very good eats.
Chicken Hash with Mushrooms and Balsamic Vinegar
Adapted from Ina Garten
2 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds boiling potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 red onions, chopped
2 red bell peppers, sliced in 1/2 lengthways, and cut in strips
1 lb crimini mushrooms, quartered
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 T balsamic vinegar
Sour cream, Cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
Cook the potatoes in a large pot of boiling salted water for 10 minutes, and drain. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, dice them into 1/2-inch cubes.
Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saute pan, over medium-low heat. Add the chicken thighs and brown on each side for about 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover and cook the chicken for another 8 to 10 minutes until it's cooked through. Remove to a cutting board and cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
To the same pan, add another 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Working in batches, add the potatoes in a single layer and fry them for 5 to 7 minutes, until evenly browned and cooked through. Place the cooked potatoes on a baking sheet, and keep them warm in the oven while you fry the next batch.
Heat 4 tablespoons olive oil in the sauté pan. Add the onions and cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Increase the heat and add the mushrooms and sauté until they start to take on some color. Add the red peppers and saute on high heat for 2 minutes.
Lower the heat, add the garlic, thyme, paprika, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, and the tomato paste. Add the potatoes and chicken, stir to combine and heat through and place on a serving platter. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and top with sour cream, then sprinkle with grated Cheddar cheese and chopped chives.
Note: If doing most of this ahead of time, stop after you cook the onions. Don’t cook the peppers and mushrooms ahead.