I hate to waste food. In fact, I hate to waste anything. It comes from my father – he’s quite possibly the most efficient man alive. Cereal boxes down to the last dregs? Mix ‘em together! Just a smidge of shampoo and conditioner left? Make Pert Plus! This concept used to enrage me as a child, when I found out the last of the Frosted Mini Wheats was coated in Wheaties crumbs, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve unwittingly embraced his ways. Which leads me to today’s recipe.
So let’s talk about Veggie Drawer Hash. You’re going away, maybe for the weekend, maybe longer. All you have in the fridge are two eggs, a potato, and a handful of old spinach. What to do? Order out? Never! The dregs of your refrigerator can all come together into something quite fantastic with a little imagination.
There is a secret to making that heap of hash look appealing, and dare I say, fancy? And that is a beautiful poached egg.
I love poached eggs. You’ll see that I will write about them a lot. Why? Eggs are usually in the fridge. They add protein. And they look glorious when the yolk bursts forth and drenches everything below with rich, velvety sauce. For this recipe, that yolk really unites the flavors of the hash and smooths out the texture. The egg’s not mandatory, but it really helps turn the dish into something you’d be willing to serve out.
The other secret to a great hash is acid. Once you’ve got everything together, before you add the egg, add a dash of acid – be it lemon, vinegar, or mustard, it will work wonders at elevating the flavors. What you use depends on what you have on hand and what’s in the hash. I love sherry vinegar for most dishes – it has a deeper, smoother flavor than most vinegars and isn’t too sweet. Grainy mustard is awesome with Brussels sprouts, cabbage, potatoes or dishes with sausage. And lemon is best reserved for cleaner vegetable flavors like asparagus.
Veggie Drawer Hash
Prep Time: 15 min Cook Time: 15 min Total Time: 30 min
Olive or other cooking oil
Minced garlic, shallots or onion, if you have it
Contents of your veggie and root vegetable drawer, chopped into bite sized chunks
Maybe some salami or other sausage from the back of the freezer, finely chopped or sliced into ribbons
A splash of lemon juice, vinegar or mustard
Salt and pepper
Eggs (and ideally some white vinegar for poaching)
Heat oil in the skillet and cook garlic, onion and other aromatics over medium heat til soft and fragrant. Stir in any meat and cook til a bit browned. Add longer-cooking veggies like potatoes, then stir in faster-cooking greens like kale or spinach at end. Splash with acid and season with salt and pepper.
This is my favorite technique. I go one egg at a time, as I have yet to master the multi-egg poach. You can actually poach eggs in advance, put them on a plate, then give them all a quick dip in boiling water just before serving to reheat, if you're cooking for a crowd.
Fill your saucepan with water, a good pinch of salt and a glug of white vinegar. The vinegar isn’t mandatory but really helps tame your egg whites. (It’s called acidulation. Google it if you must know more.) Bring water to a strong simmer but not a rolling boil. Make sure the water stays at that simmer the whole time – too high and the whites get all foamy, too low and the egg sinks to the bottom and flattens. Crack your egg into a small bowl. Swirl the end of your spatula to make the water into a whirlpool. Slip the egg into the vortex and watch it spin into a perfect round orb of perfection. (Yes, you are a master chef. This is your moment.)
Using the spatula or slotted spoon, gently remove the egg after 2.5 minutes. This is one thing I really do use a timer for. Most things are not so precise but I am picky with my eggs. 2.5 minutes will give you a soft poach with very runny yolks, essential for blanketing your hash.
Plate the hash in a wide bowl and top with a poached egg, salt and pepper. Be happy that your fridge is now empty, your belly is full and you’re ready to roll.
Add harissa, Sriracha or other hot sauce to finish the dish, or sizzle some hot pepper flakes with the aromatics.
Toast chopped pecans, walnuts or almonds and mix into the hash.
My Favorite Variations
Chopped shallots, oyster mushrooms, asparagus, egg and lemon
Onion, garlic, sweet potato, red bell pepper, spinach, egg and balsamic vinegar
Sliced shallots, halved brussel sprouts, potatoes, salami, egg and grainy mustard
Pancetta, garlic, red pepper flakes, shredded brussel sprouts, pecans, egg and sherry vinegar