The dish I’m talking about today though is nothing like that. This corned beef hash is the way my mum (Pam) always used to make it, and it’s the way I still make it today because it’s relatively quick, very simple and tastes much more than the sum of its parts. I’ve seen it called ‘Cowboy Pie’ elsewhere as it is made with baked beans, but corned beef hash is what Pam calls it, and that’s what I’m sticking with.
To make this simple dish you’ll need
1 Large can of corned beef (around 340g, cut into approx 1 inch cubes)
1 large or two medium onions (sliced)
1 Tin of baked beans (I like Branston - much better than Heinz)
Lea & Perrin’s Worcestershire Sauce
Approx 1kg of Maris Piper potatoes (peeled and cut into evenly sized chunks)
A little milk (Approx 100ml)
A good sized knob of butter (be brave!)
Lots of salt and pepper
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add the potatoes, boil until soft but not overdone. It’s better to have a slightly lumpy mash rather than a watery mash as it gets cooked again in the oven anyway. Whilst the potatoes are boiling prepare the corned beef base.
Gently fry the onion with a good glug of olive oil in a non stick pan until softened but not caramelised, they should still have a little substance to them.
Push the onions to one side of the pan and turn up the heat a little, then, adding a little more oil if necessary, add the corned beef to the pan and leave for a minute until it crisps up before moving around. Once crisped on one side add a good few splashes of Lea & Perrin’s Worcestershire sauce, and toss everything in the pan to combine. Tip all of this into a medium sized lasagne dish and spread out evenly, making sure you scrape in any crispy bits from the bottom of the pan.
Next tip a whole tin of baked beans and their juice evenly over the corned beef and onion mixture. This sounds a little weird but as the dish cooks all the juice and corned beef combine to create a moist, salty, slightly tomato sweet, meaty base that goes great with the creamy mash on top.
Finish the mash by draining the potatoes in a colander and leaving to steam dry for a minute or so while you warm the milk and butter in a pan with lots of salt and black pepper. Add the potatoes and mash as you like them, adjusting seasoning to taste. Spread the mash on top of the corned beef mixture and rough up with a fork to help create as much crispy top as possible.
Place in a red hot oven then immediately turn it down to around 220*C, which is still pretty hot, for around 15-20 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when the top is crispy and lightly brown, and the base mixture is bubbling up in places. Leave to cool for a few minutes before dishing up and serve with a big dollop of good, spicy brown sauce. Perfect!
The beer match
Now the all important question, what beer to go with this? Well I decided on BrewDog’s fantastic Alice Porter. This medium-heavy bodied, big flavoured stout-like porter can handle the gutsy flavours easily - and the beers smoky berry sweetness pairs perfectly with the salty, meaty, sweet, and lightly charred, corned beef hash.
The aroma of this beer is pretty light but there’s a hint of sweet espresso coffee and also a sort of blueberry fruitiness. The taste is thicker than you might expect, with a nice medium carbonation, perfect for the style.
The taste is lovely, a really great tasting, balanced beer. It's got a classic porter roasted flavour but also a slight burnt caramel edge which leads into filter coffee and dark chocolate, then there's a sort of blueberry flavour and a boiled American hard candy sweetness (think blackcurrant Jolly Ranchers) which comes in at the end. The rich roasted malt and berrylike hop flavour work well to balance things out though, leaving the finish medium dry and clean.
This is a balanced, massively tasty beer that I could drink again and again, not the crazy experimental brew which some people might expect from a BrewDog Limited Edition - and I have to say that for me, it’s all the more exciting for it. A great addition to their range, and one which I think could prove really popular with those with more ‘traditional’ tastebuds.
I was inspired by Mark’s post on the perfect beer for Sausage, Chips and Beans to find a match for one of my all-time favourite comfort food dishes, corned beef hash. It’s a classic homefood favourite that my Londoner girlfriend hadn’t tried until moving up North but now she loves. So if you’re reading this, London based beer and food lovers, give it a go!
Also thanks to james from BrewDog for the beer.