Corned Beef Hash with Poached Egg

Photo: ckbk instagram

The key to successful corned beef hash is in the boiling of the potatoes. So few people in kitchens can successfully boil potatoes that I think it is worth including in the advanced practical examinations one day.

Firstly, if you are using peeled potatoes then use them shortly after they have been peeled and not when they have been sitting in a bucket of water for hours. Cut the potatoes into pieces of roughly equal thickness. If you are using unpeeled potatoes – which will give you a superior flavour and which is what I do myself – then carefully wash and sort the potatoes so that they are more or less the same size. You will need to peel them after cooking of course.

Next, use your head when choosing a saucepan. If you use one that is too big you will need to put in gallons of water in order to cover the potatoes. This will take ages to boil. Pour on water until the potatoes are just covered and then add plenty of salt and a tight-fitting lid. Bring the potatoes to the boil, and then turn the heat down so that they are boiling very gently. When they are completely cooked – after about 20 minutes – drain off the water. Replace the lid and let it stand for a minute while any excess water evaporates as steam. Don’t leave the potatoes much longer than this or they will form a hard, dry layer that doesn’t mash well.

Skin the potatoes if necessary. Add about ½ teaspoon salt and several turns of the pepper mill. Mash the potatoes. Do not put in any butter or liquid until the potatoes are completely mashed. If you are just making mashed potato you could add butter, milk or olive oil at this stage and start beating it. For corned beef hash you have no such worries.

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  • 1 × 11¾ oz (340 g) tin corned beef
  • unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 lb (900 g) white potatoes, cooked and mashed as above
  • black pepper
  • groundnut oil
  • 1 fresh egg per person


The hash

  1. Open the tin. Try to avoid ripping off pieces of finger or swearing when the key breaks off half-way round the tin.
  2. Melt oz (40 g) butter in a large frying pan and then fry the onion until brown.
  3. Cut the corned beef into ½ in (1 cm) cubes and then add them to the pan. Empty the mixture into a bowl.
  4. Add the hot mashed potato, another oz (40 g) butter, and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.
  5. When the mixture has cooled you can form it into ten patties, roughly hamburger-shaped.
  6. Fry these as needed in a little groundnut oil combined with some butter. Always make sure the pan is hot and that the oil is hot before you put the corned beef hash in. This way you will get a golden crust and the hash will not stick too badly to the pan.

The eggs

  • Bring a small saucepan of salted water to the boil. Crack a fresh egg into a saucer and then gently slide it into the water. Just 2 minutes later your poached egg should be perfect and can be lifted out with a slotted spoon, dried, and then placed on top of the corned beef hash.

    I never use vinegar when poaching eggs as I have never discovered what good it is meant to do.

This is a simple recipe for a simple dish. It surprises me what a popular breakfast it makes. It surprises me even more how few people take the trouble to make simple things really well.