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Wolfgang Puck’s Vaca Frita Beef Hash

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Holy Frijoles! You’d think following a recipe for a change would let you coast on auto pilot. You’d day-dream about sun (it’s officially summer in Portland) and listen to The Tallest Man on Earth. But nein! Wolfgang Puck is a taskmaster if his potato hash recipe is any measure of the Mensch!

Vaca Frita with a Tropical Tuber Hash cake with Caramelized Onions

Tapping yet another rich vein of hashcapade goodness, I thought it would be interesting to see what celebrity chefs are conjuring up for potato hash. While impressed by Emeril’s pace-setting 12+ potato hash recipes, Wolfgang’s single entry was an immediate challenge, an exercise in tenacity at a projected 2 hours and 45 minutes!

I was especially attracted to the veggie foundation – sweet potatoes, yucca root and boniato. Combined with red & yellow bell peppers, poblano & jalapeño peppers, cilantro, Italian parsley and Sherry, this was easily the tastiest part. However, I must reveal that it included a smidge of gateway meat (bacon) and I re-purposed bacon fat from my Bacon Takedown!

Veggie central for the foundation of this hashcapade.

At this point, a brief diversion is in order. A few years ago, I stumbled upon a fabulous Braised Short Rib and Caramelized Ravioli with Truffled Wild Mushroom recipe from Tribeca Grill in New York. Lisa and I spent hours…HOURS…on the reduction sauces (yes, plural) which were less daunting than the fresh pasta from scratch! So, I was a bit wary of Wolfgang’s Hash and his reduction sauce, bit it turned out to be tame by comparison 🙂

Hashed peppers throwing a party in my pan.

The most time-consuming bit is the grilling of the skirt steak and subsequent mini-braising on the stove. Once that was finito burrito, the reduction of the cooking juices and broth created a rich, meaty base that I used to sop up leftover steak – yum! Pounding steak into fibers with a mallet was therapeutic.

Skirt steak pounded into submission.

For this hashcapade, I halved the original recipe from Wolfgang Puck in my List of Celebrity Chef Potato Hashes. Deviations included cooking the steak for only an hour, not marinating the cooked beef overnight and the lack of boniato & decent yucca.

Another view of Vaca Frita.
How was it? All the components blow your mind when you think of them as you’re cooking: black pepper and cumin-spiced skirt steak braised in mirepoix with bacon and broth + the aforementioned veggie foundation + caramelized red onion. Tasting them is even more intense, especially the reduction sauce and veggies. If I had more time, I would have tried this with pulled pork! Über tasty!
If you’ve had a celebrity chef recipe experience, I’d like to hear about it!
Happy Hashcapades,
Clark
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