Corned Beef Hash from Meli Cafe (photo by Steve Dolinsky)
Steve O’Dolinsky here, reporting on this fine day in Chicago on yet another St. Patrick’s Day. In the city that dies its river green, we have somehow come to believe the Irish consume prodigious amounts of corned beef and cabbage with their Guinness, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The Irish don’t really eat corned beef (unless it’s in a deli, served on rye with mustard). They tend to lean toward the tougher cuts of mutton/lamb and would most likely eat it with potatoes. But since this is Chicago, and the corned beef is plentiful, I thought we would substitute that cabbage for potatoes; it’s as good a reason as any then, to eat a little corned beef hash today.
At Meli Cafe in Greektown – one of the best places to grab breakfast in the city – they take a meticulous approach to this breakfast staple. Not only do they cure and then steam the whole briskets for hours, they hand-trim them, then chop them into itty bitty pieces (the chef tells me he literally chops for about eight minutes, until he gets the exact consistency he’s looking for). The corned beef is cooked with some butter and chopped potatoes, along with seasonings of dried onion, garlic, salt and pepper. The hash is rolled up in plastic, forming a giant tube; it’s refrigerated, just until the rendered fat and butter solidify, holding the mass of hash together. When an order comes in, a hockey puck-sized disc is cut off of the end, and it’s fried on a griddle until crisp. A side of breakfast potatoes and a pair of eggs complete the meal. It may not be Irish, but it sure tastes good. You can see how Meli makes it today at 11 a.m. on ABC 7, or just watch it here.