By Roary Mac Pherson
According to the online encyclo-pedia Wikipedia, the term "comfort food" refers to any food or drink that you habitually turn to for temporary respite, security or a special reward. A comfort food is typically simple, familiar and evokes pleasant associations. Small children often seem to latch on to a specific food or drink (like they do a security blanket), and will repeatedly request it in high-stress situations. But adults are certainly not exempt from this impulse.
Everyone seems to yearn for the culinary equivalent of a cozy robe and slippers when they are feeling under the weather - even people with the most sophisticated palates. When we crave comfort, nothing satisfies us more than simple yet hearty fare that evokes happy, homey memories while filling our stomachs. Mashed potatoes with gravy, home-made macaroni and cheese, real hot cocoa made from scratch - these are some classic comfort foods that never go out of style.
Another one of my favourites is a "winter warmer" meal that could be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner: my mother's recipe for salt meat hash and poached eggs. This dish always brings me a sense of security and makes me feel good, as Mom usually served it at Christmas time or shortly after, when the whole family was around to enjoy it. It's simple to prepare and is loved by many!
Salt Meat Hash with Poached Eggs
2 med. potatoes, cooked, peeled and shredded
1 small onion, minced
2 tbsp chopped parsley
2 oz chopped salt meat
Leftover cabbage, turnip and carrot
2 tbsp butter
Sea salt and freshly milled black pepper to taste
4 eggs, poached
Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat until hot but not smoking. In a bowl, mix together potato, onion, salt meat, leftover vegetables and parsley. Season the mixture and fry a small piece to taste for seasoning. Add more salt and pepper if necessary. Add the butter to the pan and then the potato mixture. Cook for 4-5 min. Place a plate over the pan. Invert the hash onto the plate and return the pan to the burner. Slide the hash back into the pan and cook for another 3-4 min.
While hash is cooking, poach the eggs in a pan that is at least 3 inches deep so there is enough water to cover the eggs and they don't stick to the bottom of the pan. Add a tbsp of vinegar and a pinch of salt to the water and bring the poaching liquid to a boil, then reduce to a simmer before adding the eggs (bubbles should not break the surface). The barely simmering water helps the eggs keep their shape, as does the vinegar.
Break each egg onto a saucer or into small cups or bowls. Slip eggs carefully into slowly simmering water by lowering the lip of each container just below the surface of the water. Let the eggs flow out. Don't put more than two in the pot at a time. Immediately cover with a lid and turn off the heat. Cook 3 to 5 minutes, depending on how firm you like the yolks. Lift each poached egg from the water with a slotted spoon, letting any water clinging to the egg drain off.
Transfer cooked hash to a serving dish and top with poached eggs. Serve and enjoy!
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