Making a hash of things

Last updated 11:50 28/09/2012

I have a lot of kitchen disasters, you will be pleased to learn. I have confessed some of them to you - the Anzac biscuits, anyone? Probably no more or less than anyone else, truth be told, but still, kitchen disasters - I gottem.

Even people who are capable and competent in the kitchen (I genuinely regard myself as neither) mess things up from time to time. I even kinda like the mistakes, though - the overcooked chicken that goes a bit dry and stringy - and I love when the wingtips and bones fuse, making a meaty, chewy bite that is all edible - delicious. Or the overcooked cake you heat and serve with icecream, to disguise the dryness. Sometimes you actually come up with something kind of delicious by, basically, screwing up trying to make something else.

Being as how we are still sans kitchen, what with the renovations being ongoing (don't worry, I am much more sick of having them than you are of hearing about them), and I am still freestyling on our little gas camping hob, this week I snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with something I vaguely cribbed from an episode of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage cooking show.

In it, one of Hugh's poshie mates made a dinner that looked so simple I thought I could probably draw inspiration to make something sort of similar. He made what I guess you would call a hash - smooshed up, kinda fried stuff and leftovers brought together in a hot pan. He did it with potatoes and mackerel fillets, and finished it off with lemon juice and fresh, chopped parsley.

It seemed to be a "recipe" that would accommodate whatever you have knocking about in the fridge. These are my favourite kinds of "recipes" - they feel less like an instruction that if you deviate from will not work, and more like a gentle suggestion as to an idea of something that might produce something good to eat. It's probably going to rely on you tasting as you go to make sure it is good.

Anyway, this is how I rolled out - this is how The Omnivore makes a hash of things (and ends up with something surprisingly delicious!).

You might like to use any or all of the following:

- potatoes (at least one each, precooked, skin on - microwaved is fine. Or kumara - whatever floats your boat)

- a couple of sausages, sliced (we had some leftover kranskys, precooked - easy)

- garlic (a couple of cloves)

- grapeseed oil

- half a red capsicum

- capers (in salt, rinsed)

- 2 or 3 spring onions

- a handful of chopped parsley (I swiped some, with his blessing, from my neighbour Ted's garden - thank you, Ted)

- juice and zest of a lemon

- some leftover feta (we never use a whole packet between us for one meal)

- a handful of halved cherry tomatoes

- salt and pepper to taste

Method: Heat the oil in a large pan, then add the chopped garlic - cook everything then in a bit of a "how long it'll take to cook" kind of way - potatoes and kranskys for a bit longer, and so on. The great thing about this is that it actually doesn't really matter how you cook it! It is very forgiving - just taste it, to make sure the balance of flavours is pleasing.

If some of the potatoes "catch" in the pan - mmmm, crispy bits! What you might want to do, though, is cook things separately, then bring them together at the end. And, obviously, things like tomatoes need to go in right at the end, and the lemon juice, feta and parsley after you have taken it off the heat. Finish with a dash of olive oil, and some of the lemon zest - looks pretty and tastes great. 

So there you have it - really that easy! I think Plus One thought I had gone doolally when I just started chucking stuff into a pan, but she had to admit that the results spoke for themselves. You could really replace pretty much anything - roast pumpkin for potato, bacon or smoked fish for the sausages - or corned beef is the obvious, classic ingredient. Go nuts (but maybe don't use nuts).

Do you ever make "a hash" of things? Gonna give it a go? Any other suggestions for things to include, or tips/tricks to make it a winner? Or - other quick, easy uses for leftovers/bits and bobs from the fridge?

The Omnivore wishes you a happy weekend's eating, and would love you to join him on Facebook

The photo is by Richard Kaszeta (my hash didn't last long enough to get photographed...)

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