I was going to make Red Flannel Hash to celebrate the Red Green Wit and Wisdom show that I attended back in November. If you’re not familiar with Red Green (Steve Smith), he’s the star of The Red Green Show, a Canadian television comedy that aired from 1991-2006 and has been a huge success in the northern reaches of the U.S., where it is still broadcast by regional public television stations. The show satirically and hilariously celebrates small-town and backwoods living and all manner of “man stuff” at Possum Lodge where cars are cut up and turned into Zambonis, the handy-man’s secret weapon is duct tape, and the local color is plaid. (And for you Lake Wobegon fans, the men are definitely below average.)
Eventually, however, I had to do something with the beets from the CSA that accumulate in my refrigerator, so I thought I’d toughen up and give this a try. Each of the recipes I found called for canned beets, however, and while I can’t imagine going out and acquiring beets in a can on purpose, the first run of this recipe made evident the advantage of beets that have already been at least partially cooked. Raw beets just don’t cook like other vegetables do. It’s not enough, apparently, to just taste unpleasantly, they also have to take a long time to cook and end up still crunchy when other ingredients are nice and tender.
To remedy this difficulty, I partially cooked beets in the microwave for the second attempt at this recipe. (You could certainly use canned beets if you like them, you weirdo.) Yes, there was a second attempt, because this stuff actually tastes really good. Taking a cue from Beet and Carrot Burgers, which I love, I added carrots along with the beets (and potatoes). The carrots seem to tame some of the beets’ unusual sweet earthiness. I also put a hefty dose of spicy mustard and some horseradish into this hash and both accompany beets very well (and hide some of their flavor).
It’s important to cut the vegetables into very small pieces for this dish if you want everything to cook in a timely fashion. As it is, this isn’t exactly a speedy recipe with all the chopping and cooking raw vegetables over medium-low heat so they get tender before they burn. If the carrots and potatoes are in large pieces, they’ll never cook. Of course you could use leftover or partially cooked vegetables, but I haven’t tried that myself.
I topped my hash servings with a fried egg (over easy), which made it a complete meal. You could top it with whatever form of egg you like, or stir in leftover cooked meats or deli meats, such as corned beef, smoked turkey or pastrami. And if you’re a beet hater like me, I think you should give this a shot. The beets aren’t exactly hidden. In fact they lend their maroon essence to the whole dish, but their taste is not overwhelming. I think I can even appreciate their flavor in this case, and this is definitely going to be a new favorite for tackling all those fine beets that I manage to accumulate.
This kind of food is homey and comforting and just right for accompanying undemanding entertainment like lumberjack competitions and north woods comedies. Just remember to keep your sense of humor, especially about the beets, and, as Red Green signs off, “Keep your stick on the ice.”
Red Flannel Hash with Spicy Mustard
Based on a recipe in Cooking Light, March 1999
If serving with eggs, be sure to plan their preparation while cooking the hash.
I had the best results using a nonstick pan for this dish. You may be able to use cast iron or another type of pan, but may need to use more oil to prevent sticking.
1 large or 2 small beets, about enough to make 1 cup when diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup diced onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup diced peeled carrot
1 cup diced peeled potato
1 teaspoon coarse (kosher) salt
½ cup finely chopped scallions
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
3 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons spicy mustard, such as Dusseldorf style
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Scrub the beets well and trim the ends to remove any dirty or leafy parts. Place the beets in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high 3-4 minutes or until softened and partially cooked. Set aside until cool enough to handle.
2. When cooled, peel and dice the beets. Set aside.
3. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook about 5 minutes or until softened and beginning to brown. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds more.
4. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the carrot, potatoes, partially cooked beets and salt. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until all the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.