Let there Be Hash

October Food Challenge

Posted: Thursday, November 04, 2004

Food Challenge remembers its formative years, when it was just a glimmer in its grandmother's highball. We were wily as a child, cornering the cat under the kitchen table. And we can still smell the corned beef hash -one of our favorite meats when we were small potatoes. That scent meant two things: 11:30 Sunday morning, and brunch time.

Here in Juneau, 2,226 miles from home, we learned a lot from the October Food Challenge. As you may remember, on Sept. 23, we asked you to whip up a dish using corned beef hash, mango, cheese and bread. As you may or may not admit, you were slow to respond.

Perhaps, in Alaska, corned beef hash is the black sheep of breakfast, a forlorn little lamb never asked to play with the bacon.

Whatever the case, our friend hash seems to be like the late Rodney Dangerfield: a ray of brilliance, rarely respected.

"I don't think I've ever opened a can of corned beef hash," dental assistant Gina Schmitz said. "It's not my favorite ingredient. When you pull it out of the can, it really looks like dog food."

Her "Hash Stuffed Pork Loin with Curried Mango Pineapple Chutney" was received favorably at her household, but did little to sway her opinion.

"You can hardly taste the hash, which made it really good," she said.

Others, thankfully, were less hash harsh.

Koggie and Tom File, co-managers of Mendenhall Golf Course, took one look at the October Food Challenge and thought back to the early days of their marriage, a time before endless mowing.

"He did more of the cooking back then," Koggie said. "His favorite thing to make was corned beef hash."

Dennis Adams recalled his first brush with corned beef hash. It would not be his last. Ernesta Ballard waxed poetic about the Wild West with a fiery pudding. Dixie Weiss honored her namesake grandmother, a pioneer ranch woman and a corned beef genius. Sharon Briggs, the Food Challenge matriarch, thought back to her mother, toiling away with hash during camping trips on the Madison River. She was so moved that she invented two dishes.

Join us now, in this second Food Challenge, as we present you with all 11 recipes. For a more detailed analysis of each recipe, complete with the authors' thoughts, please visit and revisit our Web site: www.juneauempire.com/foodchallenge

And as always, remember, amateur or gourmet, nothing is impossible for the cook who dreams the most.

• Korry Keeker can be reached at korry.keeker@juneauempire.com.

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