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Originally published Tuesday, February 16, 2010 at 7:00 PM

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Recipes: A Good Hash, Clam Hash and Shrimp Hash

These hash recipes are a bit out of the ordinary.

Chicago Tribune

Like many divine personalities, Mary Kitchen has a past shrouded in mystery. No one really knows if the goddess of corned beef hash is based on a real person or not, and why the name was chosen. Though Hormel Foods is marking the 61st anniversary of the brand in 2010, it's likely we'll never know for sure.

Still, I have unabashedly adored Mary Kitchen with a passion many reserve for real flesh and blood cooks. That's because her hash makes me happy.

Yes, happy. I know, I should be in the kitchen making my own from leftovers rather than wielding a can opener. But understand, Mary Kitchen and I go way, way back.

I was introduced to Ms. Kitchen while a student at Manhattanville College. Dinner, what there was of it, was served at 5 p.m., and by 9, I was always starving. Mary Kitchen hash was great for dorm cooking because it came in a tidy can, didn't need refrigeration and could be heated up quickly on one of the dorm stoves.

Mary Kitchen corned beef hash satisfied on so many levels. The hash was meaty with just enough fatty schmaltz and salt to make it taste decadent. The texture was fun, the meat kind of soft, the potatoes a little nubbly and the whole a bit crispy on the edges. Oh, and it went great with a Scotch on the rocks. Still does, in fact, though these days I'm more inclined to pour a pinot if corned beef hash is for dinner.

Hormel Foods makes roast beef and corned beef hash. I've always stuck with the corned beef; tastes best.

Like Mary Kitchen, Julia Child has a special place in my heart. It was the legendary "French chef" who told a surprised Judith Jones to stir some stock or gravy into a hash to give it a crusty glaze. Jones, an esteemed cookbook editor and no slouch in the kitchen, found it really worked. Here's an all-purpose hash recipe from Jones' food memoir, "The Tenth Muse."

A GOOD HASH

Makes 2 servings

2 tablespoons butter

2 to 3 mushrooms, chopped, optional

2 shallots or 1 medium onion, chopped

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1 rib celery, chopped

1/2 large red or green bell pepper, chopped

2 medium or small potatoes, boiled, peeled, chopped

6 ounces cooked beef, lamb, pork, corned beef or poultry, cut into a small dice

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1/4 cup lamb, beef, veal or chicken stock

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1. Melt the butter in an 8-to-9-inch skillet. Cook the mushrooms, shallots, celery and bell pepper, stirring often, until almost soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the potatoes and the meat. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until hash begins to sizzle, 2 minutes.

2. Pour in the stock. Cook over low heat, partially covered, 10 minutes. Turn the hash over with a spatula. Cook, uncovered, until liquid evaporates and crust begins to form on bottom, 5 minutes. Turn the hash over; cook until other side is browned, 5 minutes. Serve with parsley sprinkled on top.

This recipe comes from Roadfood.com, the Web site of Jane and Michael Stern, who have roamed back roads for decades discovering and celebrating American's down-home cooking, like clam hash. "We've not seen clam hash on a menu other than at Pat's Kountry Kitchen, but it has deep roots in Yankee cooking," the pair noted. This recipe "comes pretty close" to what is famously served up at the restaurant in Old Saybrook, Conn. Top with a fried egg, if you like.

Clam Hash

Makes 4 servings

1 dozen large chowder clams or 2 cans (6.5 ounces) chopped clams, drained of most juice

1 rib celery, diced

1/2 bay leaf, crushed

3 potatoes, boiled, peeled, diced

2 bunches green onions, chopped, including some of the greens

2 to 4 tablespoons whipping cream

1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/4 teaspoon thyme

2 to 3 ounces salt pork, cut into small pieces

1. Scrub the clam shells thoroughly clean. Place them in a kettle with about an inch of water with the celery and bay leaf. Cover; heat to a boil over medium heat. Steam until the shells open wide, about 15 minutes. Remove the clams from the broth; cool. .( Discard any clams that do not open up.) Cut the meat from the shells that have opened. Chop into pieces no bigger than peas. (If you are using canned clams, omit this step and omit the celery and bay leaf.)

2. Combine the clams, potatoes and green onions in a bowl; add enough cream so the mixture holds together but isn't wet. Stir in the salt, pepper and thyme.

3. Fry the salt pork over medium-high heat in a 12-inch nonstick skillet until the fat is rendered, about 8 minutes. Remove most of the cracklings; reserve. Add the hash to the hot fat, flattening it into a large patty. Fry until crusty, 10-15 minutes. Turn; fry the other side 10-15 minutes. Garnish with cracklings.

This shrimp hash from chef Patrick O'Connell of The Inn at Little Washington in Virginia ends with little cakes, which are browned in the skillet. O'Connell also adds lobster to this hash for a special celebration meal. The cakes can be made up to 12 hours ahead. — Bill Daley

Shrimp Hash

Makes 4 servings

1/2 cup shrimp or chicken stock

2 teaspoons tomato paste

1/4 cup whipping cream

1 large Yukon gold potato, peeled, diced

3 tablespoons grapeseed or vegetable oil

2 tablespoons finely chopped onion

3 tablespoons diced green and red bell peppers

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs

2 1/2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1/2 teaspoon grated, each: lemon zest, orange zest

3/4 pound raw shrimp, peeled, deveined, chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper

1 egg, beaten

1. Combine the shrimp stock, tomato paste and whipping cream in a small saucepan. Heat to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until reduced by half. Cool to room temperature. Refrigerate if not serving right away.

2. Meanwhile, boil the potato in a saucepan of salted water to cover until just tender, about 10 minutes. Drain; set aside.

3. Cook the onions in a skillet over medium-high heat in 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil until lightly browned. Add the peppers; cook until tender. Add the garlic; cook 1 minute. Add the cooked potato; cook until lightly colored, about 10 minutes. Remove the cooked vegetables to a bowl, cool. Add bread crumbs, flour, parsley, the lemon and orange zest, and shrimp. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Add the egg; fold together gently until just combined. Shape the hash into cakes about 3 inches in diameter. At this point, the cakes can be wrapped in plastic and kept in the refrigerator for up to 12 hours.

5. When ready to serve, heat the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet; fry the cakes until golden, about 5 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels; serve with sauce.

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