What Is Ground Beef Hash?

Jennifer Leigh

Ground beef hash is a dish that has its origins in many hash dishes that have taken place over the years. The word hash comes from the French word 'hacher,' which means that something is chopped into pieces. There are versions of hash in Irish, British, French and Mexican cuisines, as well as many others throughout the world. Hash was traditionally made from leftovers for breakfast in the morning, but this is not the case today. This dish, ground beef hash, can be seasoned and added to, but the main ingredients are usually similar no matter where it might be found.

Hash dishes may consist of leftovers.
Hash dishes may consist of leftovers.

Hash is meat that has been chopped into very small pieces and cooked briefly until it is either warm or golden-fried, depending on the dish. Since hamburger is already ground into small pieces, the cutting is not required prior to cooking the hash. Other varieties of hash include corned beef hash, minced lamb on toast and picadillo. In all of these cases, the meat is chopped finely before being cooked briefly and served with other ingredients.

Hash can be cooked with previously barbecued hamburger meat in the U.S.
Hash can be cooked with previously barbecued hamburger meat in the U.S.

There are versions of hash in many cuisines throughout the world. It is particularly popular in places where meat is consumed regularly. In the US, hash can refer to barbecued meat that is cooked the next day with potatoes and topped with eggs. Malaysian cuisine has bergedi, which is a dish made with minced meat, potatoes and onions. Another example is Sweden, where they serve pyttipanna, a minced pork dish fried with pickled beets and topped with eggs.

Leftovers are the main component of most hash dishes. Ground beef hash can be made using leftover hamburger that was cooked previously for another purpose. The hamburger can also be cooked fresh if no leftover hamburger is available. Additional ingredients vary depending on the type of hash being made but often include potatoes and onions. Tomatoes, chile peppers and spices can be added for a Mexican-style ground beef hash.

Hash is often eaten for breakfast and topped with poached or fried eggs. Ground beef hash can be served with tortillas or toast for scooping pieces off the plate. Since ground beef has become common in many places around the world, it is not difficult to find a version that will suit just about anyone. The main purpose of ground beef hash, however, is to use leftover ground beef and other ingredients that would otherwise go bad.

Ground beef hash may be topped with eggs.
Ground beef hash may be topped with eggs.

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