Today’s, simple and delicious, recipe was originally given to me by my Dad but it’s evolved over the years and I think it’s time I got it down. This is part of the wonderful genre I refer to as ‘Peasant Food’. This isn’t a derogatory term by any means but (and this is the Wikipedia entry) more refers to the recipes made from accessible and inexpensive ingredients and usually prepared and spiced to make them more palatable. They may use ingredients, such as offal and less-tender cuts of meat, which are not as marketable as a cash crop. Characteristic recipes often consist of hearty one-dish meals, in which chunks of meat and various vegetables are eaten in a savoury broth, with bread or other staple food. Sausages are also amenable to varied readily-available ingredients.
Peasant foods often involve skilled preparation by knowledgeable cooks using inventiveness and skills passed down from earlier generations. Such dishes are often prized as ethnic foods by other cultures and by descendants of the native culture who still desire these traditional dishes even when their incomes rise to the point where they can purchase any food they like.
This is the recipe I use for two servings.
- 340g tin of corned beef
- Pack of (5 or 6) fresh tomatoes (the riper the better) – you can substitute for a tin of prepared chopped tomatoes
- 1 large onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 150g basmati rice
- First thing to do is to skin the tomatoes. Just drop them in a bowl and cover them in boiling water. When the skins have split (should be less than 1 minute) remove with a slotted spoon and the skins should peel off nice and easily.
- Quarter the tomatoes, discard the seeds (as many as you can) and then cut each quarter in one or two smaller pieces
- Roughly chop up the onion. I like to keep the pieces at least 1cm squared as I like the texture they give to this dish.
- Peel, chop and mash the garlic
- Lightly cover the bottom of a medium saucepan with some oil (I tend to use sunflower oil), get it on a low to medium heat and start the onions gently frying. When they’ve started to turn a nice golden colour add the garlic and continue to fry gently for another couple of minutes. Basically I’m looking to try and retain a bit of bite in the onion.
- Add the corned beef and the tomatoes, add the paprika and Worcestershire Sauce and give it a good stir. As it cooks the tomatoes will break down, try not to overwork it but make sure it isn’t sticking to the bottom of the pan either. If your tomatoes are a bit more bitter than you would like don’t be afraid to throw in a pinch or two of sugar.
- Time to get the rice on and this is my tried and tested method, you’ll need a small saucepan with a lid (or an inventive method of covering a pan). Put the kettle on to boil ,wash the rice (if required), put the rice in the pan, pour enough boiling water into the pan so that there’s about 1/2 a centimetre of water above the level of the rice, cover the pan, put the cooker’s smallest ring (gas or electric) on its lowest setting, put the pan on that ring on the hob, set a timer to go off in 20 minutes and LEAVE IT ALONE
- Back to the corned beef. Give it another good stir and then season to taste with salt and pepper. Personally I like a fair amount of black pepper…
- When the timer goes off you should find yourself with perfectly cooked rice and a very tasty hash.
When it’s done I normally serve it in a bowl, rice in the bottom and hash on top. Garnish if you really find it necessary, a fried egg goes well on the top, as does a squeeze of lemon juice.
That’s it, takes about 45 minutes from start to finish and goes great with a pint of pale ale or an Irish liquor. There are hundreds of variations of this dish, one of my favourites is to do it all exactly the same but to serve chips instead of rice – I like the hash that much! Your thoughts on this and particularly any variations you enjoy are more than welcome.