Thursday, February 4, 2010

Chicken and Root Vegetable Hash: A Semi-FAIL Story

Trying to use up the leftovers from Thomas Keller's Roast Chicken and Root Vegetables, I decided to make some chicken hash. I've not actually had much experience with chicken hash... or really, any kind of meat hash... and I'm not entirely certain why. Certainly, over the years, I've had tons of leftovers and the idea of tossing them in a pan with some onions, potatoes, and spices to make another meal isn't rocket science... but my mom would use the chicken from the night before in a stir-fry or soup, but not in hash, so it's really never occurred to me.

I noticed a recipe for it, however, when I was paging through Barbra Kafka's roasting book. I didn't have any trouble using up my leftovers when I made her chicken, but Keller's had significantly more in the way of roast veggies that were getting a bit intimidating... so a little chicken hash to spice up the 3rd day leftovers seemed like a solid plan.

I had already shredded my chicken to separate out the bones for stock, so I just chopped up my veggies a bit more (a little messy) and diced and onion and I was ready to go. Unfortunately it took ages to get to the table because Kafka's recipe is pretty involved... and in retrospect I think that's because her recipe was for the case where you have only the chicken as a leftover... and need to cook the veggies (parsnips in her case) while imbuing them with chicken flavor. My veggies had already been roasting in chicken fat and juices for an hour, were already well browned, and really developed no additional benefit from the the long stages on the stove top. I thought the idea of pouring in chicken stock and then simmering it off sounded like a great idea, but it really seemed to have little effect with my ingredients.

In retrospect, I'd just wanted to caramelize some onions and then work to heat through the chicken and root vegetables, while introducing some spices to make it a little more interesting. All I used was salt, pepper, and a dash of allspice, and found myself reaching for the Sriracha immediately. In figuring out how I could improve the spicing is where I feel the most like a novice cook... and where my underdeveloped palate seems like the largest handicap. I'm forced to look around for recipes to get ideas, and have yet to find one that I think would be a vast improvement.

Now, I found it fairly decent, and certainly better than just reheating in the microwave, but it was still disappointing. Tonight is Coq au Vin so hopefully that will lift my cooking spirits.

picture of chicken hash I had absolutely no role in making (or consuming) by flickr user calamity_hane used under a Creative Commons license