The best thing about being a teacher is what I gain from my students. Usually these gains are intangible -- lessons learned and the satisfaction of lessons taught. But sometimes my students bring small but tangible gifts, occasionally things I would never find on my own.
I have been especially fortunate this pre-holiday week, in which students have given me highball glasses etched as globes, a beer home-brewed from tea, a coffee-themed deck of playing cards, and a can of salmon caught and canned just this side of the Arctic circle at Naknek, Alaska (58°44′23″N; 156°58′18″W). Feel free to explore the map at the end of this post.
Each of these gifts comes with a story, in the case of the salmon, the student had been living in nearby King Salmon last summer, when she was taking my online class that included a lot of discussion of Carl Safina's writings on Alaska and other places at the front lines of climate change.
So this week I found this can of salmon perched (pun partly intended) on the doorknob of my office, with a note about its provenance, and this morning Pam helped me figure out what to do with it: hash. Seems to be hash season, so this did not take much convincing. Especially since we have had a very hectic week, and Pam identified leftovers that would work perfectly with this gift.
So when I got home today, I fired up the indispensable cast-iron skillet and got to work on a quick and delicious dinner.
First, I heated a generous dollop of olive oil in said pan while finely chopping one half of a white onion. I browned the onion on high heat with a generous sprinkling of black pepper and then added leftover diced, roasted potatoes (see below), and then stirred in the can of salmon. I cooked until crispy -- as Goddess intended hash to be -- and turned and cooked some more. Then I made two divots, placing an egg into each one. I covered the pan and lowered the heat, cooking until the whites were set and the yolks still soft.
This was delicious with bread, butter, and Pinot Noir.
Diced Roasted Potatoes
This is a staple in our house that I "invented" while we were in grad school. I often see commercial packages in the produce aisle that I think allow the purchaser to make an inferior version at greater expense. It goes with many kinds of other dishes, or if those grad-school paychecks are being stretched thin, it can be the main dish.
Quite simply, I pre-heat the oven to 425 and then dice a handful of potatoes (the number depending on the number of diners and the size of the potatoes, perhaps 3 small spuds per diner. I usually peel them, but not completely, leaving about half the skin on. I put the diced potatoes (about 1/2-inch cubes) into a casserole dish with a generous dollop (there it is again) of olive oil. I then add a large amount of paprika, oregano, black pepper, and perhaps a couple other herbs. I roast until it reaches desired crispness, stirring and scraping occasionally. We sometimes serve this with sour cream or plain yogurt.
Usually, there are no leftovers, regardless of how much I've made. But today there was just enough for some perfect hash.