Today we’re celebrating a food that came about because of necessity…and it was so popular that it stuck around! Whenever meat has been scarce–which is, basically, any time before this recent generation–cooks have always turned to ways to make that meat stretch farther, and last longer. One way is a hash: chopped meat, mixed with potatoes, onions, and spices to make either a mush, or a molded luncheon meat. In England, corned beef hash grew popular during World War II, when one of the only readily-available meats was tinned corned beef. It’s still very popular as a molded luncheon meat in that country: when I studied abroad and got my lunches at the local sandwich shop, I was astounded to see corned beef as one of the cheapest sandwiches on the menu! Little did I realize that “corned beef” has become so synonymous with its hash counterpart in England; I was expecting juicy slices of the pink Jewish-American meat, and instead got a loaf of grey hash!
Here in the United States, though, we tend to like our corned beef hash crumbly and loose, as part of a breakfast accompaniment. It’s all the best parts of a hearty breakfast: the meat, potatoes, and spices of sausage and home fries come together in one complete dish. Add in some eggs, cooked any way you like it, and a bottomless mug of coffee and you’ve got the perfect diner dish worthy of grandma’s approval 😀 And what better grandma to approve it but Maggie Brown, the Clinton Hill restaurant named after the owner’s own nana, who inspired here to open this home-cooking gem. The restaurant is small but cozy, and offers meals that stick to your ribs and make you feel right at home. Not only is the place named after a grandmother, but some of the more popular dishes are, too: try the Beryl Evans, for instance, which includes that lovely breakfast of corned beef hash and sunny-side up eggs. The potatoes are cooked to perfection and mixed with fresh, chopped corn beef to meld all the great flavors of breakfast together. It may have started out to be a mish-mosh of foods to help stretch a little bit of meat farther, but now the corned beef hash has been elevated to a delicious dish you can eat not just out of necessity, but because you really, really want to!
455 Myrtle Ave (between Waverly Ave & Washington Ave), Clinton Hill
“Maggie Brown is also the grand dame of a gaggle of other real-life grandmas who appear here via namesake recipes. Ethel O’Connor is a Bailey’s-espresso cocktail ($8). And Beryl Evans — finely chopped corned beef hash with buttery fried eggs ($8) — is enviably good.”–The New York Times
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“Foodwise he got the corned beef hash with eggs, a biscuit and honey butter. I ordered the jalapeno cheddar grits with a fried egg and a side salad. Corned beef hash was real corned beef, tender, perfectly spiced, beautiful peppers and potatoes under a perfectly cooked over medium egg. Biscuit was clearly made that morning.. and the honey butter– so good, probably the best part of the meal. Get a side order if your entree doesnt come with it.”–Tiffany W.
“My fav was always the Beryl Evans, corned beef hash and eggs. Why? Because every other place just pulls out corned beef hash from a can and grills it up to cat-food-like quality. Maggie Brown’s actually uses REAL corned beef and BOY does it make a difference! Imagine, tasty, succulent corned beef with roasted potatoes, YUM.”–Aisha L.
Make sure you check out the updated NYC Food Holidays Map to find this most recent holiday!