Anything but Ramen: Corned beef hash gone awry

Food Columinst Aaron Pellish on what happened when he was so tired and hungry he threw a bunch of food in a pot and prayed it would work out

Sometimes you take a nap, wake up and feel like a million dollars. You feel energized, alert and ready to take on any and all challenges that come in front of you. Sometimes, when you wake up from a nap, you instantly harness the energy that naturally comes from doing nothing for a couple of hours.

But sometimes, that doesn’t happen at all.

Sometimes, you wake up from a nap feeling like somebody whacked you in the head and put steel in your eyelids while you were sleeping. Sometimes, when naps go horribly wrong, you find yourself feeling more tired than before, even though you have to go take care of responsibilities and all of the other stuff that comes with being a decently functional human.

The other day, I woke up from a nap for some reason. I’m not sure why I woke up, but I knew that I couldn’t go back to sleep once I did. I also knew that I was massively drowsy and needed something to pick my energy up so I could carry on living my life without fearing I would pass out at any moment. I needed some quick, tasty fuel.

I decided to try and make corned beef hash, because meat and potatoes are like the Jay-Z and Beyoncé of food pairings. They are reliable, consistently wonderful no matter how you look at them and they are as amazing together as they are apart. The only problem was that I didn’t have any meat or potatoes, which meant I had to make the dreaded late-night trip to Walmart to buy groceries.

With a now insatiable craving for corned beef hash, I drove to Walmart in the pouring rain to pick up some corned beef and potatoes. Unfortunately, I didn’t spend enough time looking for actual corned beef because I was too hungry (Never shop for food when you’re hungry. Don’t do it. It’s a disaster waiting to happen.), which meant I ended up using what Walmart called “Stew Meat,” which is just large chunks of beef that I guess works well for stews.

Without thinking, I bought the stew meat, some potatoes, a can of beef broth and some vegetables as I was instructed to do by my recipe and swerved home in the pouring rain.

The recipe I was using made six servings of corned beef hash, which didn’t actually register in my brain until I tried to put six diced potatoes in a frying pan and ended up with loose potatoes all over my kitchen.

I decided to cut all of my recipe in half because I was extremely hungry and a bit delusional due to my post-nap exhaustion. I put a whole bunch of potatoes, some meat, some vegetables and the whole can of beef broth into a large pot so they could fry together (and eventually get in my belly together).

I was bound to screw up this dish as soon as I made the decision to drive to Walmart in the pouring rain just to fulfill my craving for an obscure way to cook meat and potatoes. I intuitively knew that from the beginning. So when I realized that the amount of beef broth I put in my dish turned it from a potential breakfast dish into an actual, full-on meat and potatoes stew, I took it with a surprising amount of composure. I was extremely hungry, and it’s nearly impossible to mess up meat and potatoes unless you make the culinary equivalent of that picture of Jay-Z diving into a pool like an awkward, overweight grandfather.

I continued cooking my stew until it looked like it was time to eat it because I was no longer bound by the rules of a recipe. I threw some in a bowl, put a whole bunch of hot sauce on it and wolfed it down like I planned to make a stew the whole time. When I was done, I fell asleep on my couch, and I woke up feeling better than ever.

I don’t know if it was the accidental stew that revitalized me or if it was my weird dream that involved Beyoncé’s next child looking like Mr. Potato Head, but I’d like to think my stew did its job.

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