Paul’s Caul – Hash in all of its glory.

Now I’m sure you are either thinking where the hell have I been for the last two years, or more likely who the hell am I? Regardless of which group you fall into I don’t feel I have to answer to any of you so just relax, you don’t own this blog! We don’t work for you!

But with that said I have missed you all and have felt somewhat lacking in my expressive outlets and lets be fair that’s what this is all about, myself and G-balls scribbling about food as a cathartic exercise, that on a good day actually discusses food and on an exceptional day teaches you guys something other than we can ramble on for hours about next to nothing.

I could go into detail about the past few years but lets face it you don’t care, you don’t have the attention span to actually take it in even if you did care and most importantly it’s none of you god damn business. So lets just say I was doing what I love best, which is travelling the world cooking food, making other people cook my food and then watching with baited breath as people eat said food. All of this hoping for the all important smile or groan of love as the flavours and textures I have spend my life trying to achieve elicit the required response in people bellies and taste buds. What I haven’t been doing quite obviously is learning where to place commas or even basic grammar, but this is on my to do list.

Beyond that I did actually marry the best person I know, so as you can imagine for people like G-banger and myself this task takes up a lot of our time. Convincing good people that we are also good people is a very elaborate rouse, which is exhausting, but the end game is so worth it (not the movie as I’m yet to see it, but I did see the new spider-man the other day and managed to fucking ruin the plot of end game for myself like a complete bell-end) so all in all I’m happy, I’m married and cooking somewhere in the world loving food in every form possible from growing to eating and from cooking to serving.

Seems like a good time to actually delve into some legit food talk, I’m going to talk about hash today. Now before you start thinking this is not appropriate for such a wholesome blog to discuss an illegal substance such as hash, I assure you no actual hash was consumed by anyone involved in this website and we do not condone such reckless although hilarious and even relaxing behaviour.

When we talk about hashes in the cooking world its used to explain a mad concoction of ingredients cooked together (with potato being the star) in manner that really gets them knowing each other very intimately. Imagine loads of ingredients just hanging around having a BBQ, or just chilling at the beach. You will often find Mr Potato leading the way, he does like to invite everyone as he a social whore but the party is best when Senor chorizo comes along with his missus ‘senorita pomodoro’. They are just so much fun. I best stop that analogy there otherwise I’m at risk of writing a kids book with an ending that with scare the fuck out of any child cause let’s face it, all of your lead characters being killed is never good unless you involve some dragons, loads of incest and a dwarf.

For me cooking a hash is about using up what’s in the fridge and cupboards – it’s usually chorizo, spinach, potato, tomatoes, chilli, herbs, more herbs, some spices like paprika/cumin/fennel seed and some more herbs. Now if this doesn’t sound like what is left in your fridge and you are thinking how the hell am I going to turn a tub of margarine, a bottle of ketchup and some milk on its way to evolving into something less liquid like, then perhaps go rob your neighbours fridge or heaven forbid go to the shops and start buying some proper food in the hope that you end up buying too much leading towards a day you will have some delicious leftovers ready to cook this incredible hash.

But if you were to have tinned corn, beans of any kind, nuts, meats in any form, veg in any form, cheese can get involved, as far as spices all will work, herbs I cant think of a bad one. So basically anything will do but as with everything in life restraint is the key to success. This style of dish can be vegan it can be the most carnivorous dish you could dream up and everywhere in-between, perhaps think of a dish you already love and break its flavours and ingredients down and re-vamp them into a hash.

As a chef I actually end up having loads of pre-prepped items like confit cherry tomatoes or puy lentils kicking about that already have loads of flavour jammed into them. This isn’t to say you can’t do the same yourself, as these kinds of things are just the best building blocks for dishes. I’ll quickly go through a few items you should start getting amongst in your culinary adventures.

Confit cherry tomatoes

Simply whack load of cherry toms into a high sided oven tray or dish, try not to leave them double stacked but they will collapse a little so a few on top of each other won’t do any harm.

Now completely coat them with olive oil, don’t waste your good extra virgin gear just olive oil or even rapeseed oil will do, in fact I don’t give a fuck what oil you use. If you want to produce some extra flavoured oil as a by-product them add a bit more but for this purpose a light covering is adequate.

Now slice up a couple of chillies and bung them in with the toms and oil, how many chillies and what kind of chillies definitely fall into the I don’t care what you do category. I use green chillies and about 1 chilli per punnet and I usually make 4 punnets worth of cherry toms per batch.

Slice a few cloves of garlic and gently place them in the tray (just kidding smash, slice, crush or leave whole then recklessly throw them in) and while you are at it a couple of sprigs of thyme or rosemary can go in there too. I don’t cut them up at all, I do however remove stalks at end of cooking, but this point the leaves have generally falling off and done it job.

Now stick the tray in an oven at 150c for 2-3 hours or until the toms have collapsed and look sexy and all that.
Now they can be used straight away as a pasta sauce, you can drain off juice and oil and use as dressing, you can use toms for a mega bruschetta-esque thing. Basically this stuff will make cardboard taste good.

Puy lentils

These bad boys are without a doubt my favourite legume, easy and quick to cook and such a great vessel for flavour getting into my face hole.

To cook then you need to cook off some onions, carrot and celery diced fine then add lentils and then some stock and allow to cook for 20 minutes or so to allow them to soak up all of the goodness.

Of course I also jam some herbs in there and often use ginger and some spices but its over to you to find what you like and if this explanation isn’t enough for you, then go Google how to cook puy lentils and leave me alone.

Once you have them cooked they can be used as a side to your dinner, a base to serve your dinner on, as a salad base, placed in a soup for something a little special or just eaten like you would a risotto.

Candied chilli

Slice loads of chillies into a pan then cover with sugar and vinegar and simmer down until it starts to thicken then take off heat and allow cooling.

I don’t care what chilli, sugar or vinegar you use and to be perfectly honest I can’t imagine a combination or quantity that wont end up with something resembling a useable candied chilli.

As for uses there is just too many to start talking about, if you cant find a use for this stuff then we cant be friend, its that simple.

Get that mis en place together
CHORIZO & POTATO HASH

For this hash I slice up one chorizo and half loads of new potatoes and place them on an oven tray, drizzle every so slightly with oil as the chorizo when excited by heat releases it juices and aids in making anything close to it amazing.
Whack this in a hot oven (180c) for 30-40 minutes or until chorizo is crispy and potatoes look the business, this may require a stir half way through.

Then once cooked add half of the mix with some warmed confit cherry toms and some spinach leaves and pour onto a plate or a bowl and scatter the remaining crispy chorizo mix over the it.

Now go wild with chilli, coriander, basil, spring onions and parsley… chop or tear it up and sprinkle over the hash.

Now liberally squeeze some aioli or mayo over the top, finish with a big spoonful of yoghurt.

Its that simple, serve up straight away but be prepared to get addicted to this method of cookery as its easy, delicious and beautifully wholesome in all ways.

Other combinations are…

• Sweet potato, kale and corn
• Potato, spinach, fish and caper mayo
• Courgette, aubergine, ras el hanout, kiffler potatoes
• Mushroom, goats cheese, asparagus, potato and basil
• Puy lentils, thyme roasted potato, confit cherry toms, candied chilli mayo
• Potato gems, bacon, cheddar, spring onion, bbq sauce

I’ll leave you here to enjoy hash in all of its glorious guises and remember kids – hash is great.

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