Gourmet turkey hash
At first glance, it might appear that I'm enjoying old-fashioned comfort food again this week. After all, hardly anything seems more down-home than hash, the dish that lent its name to "hash house" as moniker for a diner not known for gourmet-style grub.
Basic hash, the dictionary says, goes back to the 17th century in English, taking its name from the French "hacher," meaning "to cut up," and that pretty much describes the recipe: It's a simple dish, usually made from leftovers, of meat, poultry or occasionally fish, reheated with chopped vegetables and liquid.
I fancified this one a bit by choosing an offbeat ingredient or two, adding celery and a bit of sweetly anise-flavored finocchio bulb to the vegetables and kicking up the anise element a little more still with the similar-only-different flavor of fennel seed. Then, mostly for my own entertainment, I carefully cut the finocchio - along with onions and celery - into a neat brunoise, tiny dice as precisely similar in size and shape as I could easily make them. Was this necessary? No, of course not. But it didn't take that long to cut enough for two, and it pleased me to bring a fancy French technique to something as purportedly pedestrian as hash.
Browned and simmered with leftover dark turkey meat and potatoes cut into larger cubes, this ingredient list made a warming wintry dish that wouldn't have seemed entirely out of place in a hash house. But it was just fancy enough that it could have been served on china and white tablecloths as well ... perhaps re-christened as Dinde haché a la fenouille? Or maybe not.
INGREDIENTS: (Serves 2)
2 cloves garlic
1. Mince the garlic, and cut the peeled onion, fennel bulb and celery stalk into neat 1/4-inch dice, if you want to be fancy, or simply chop the vegetables coarsely if you don't. Crush the fennel seeds in a mortar and pestle.
2. In a large skillet or saucepan, sautee the garlic and a discreet shake of dried red-pepper flakes briefly in the olive oil over medium-high heat, then add the chopped onion, celery and fennel and the fennel seeds. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are cooked and starting to turn brown.
3. Meanwhile, peel all the potatoes and cut them into larger cubes, about 3/4-inch. Cut the turkey (or, if you wish, chicken or beef) into cubes of roughtly similar size.
4. Put the broth, the meat and the potatoes in the pan with the browned vegetables. Season with salt and pepper, tasting as you go and taking care not to overdo; you can always add seasoning before you serve.
5. Simmer it all together, uncovered, until the potatoes are well cooked, stirring occasionally and the liquid has reduced and thickened a bit. Check seasoning and serve.
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Thursday, Jan. 11, 2007
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