We’ve not seen clam hash on a restaurant menu other than at Pat’s Kountry Kitchen, a long-gone Connecticut shoreline cafe that made it a specialty for years. But it has deep roots in Yankee cookery. Founder Pat Brink told us that her recipe was developed when her kids accidentally threw away the broth retrieved from a batch of clams that were destined to become clam chowder. Without the broth, there could be no chowder; so Pat improvised and created hash. This recipe is not hers, but comes pretty close.
3 medium potatoes (about 1 pound)
1 dozen large chowder clams or 2 6-1/2 ounce cans of chopped cans, drained of most juice
1 rib celery, diced (about 1/3 cup)
1/2 bay leaf, thoroughly crushed
2 bunches scallions, chopped, including some of the greens (1/2 to 2/3 cup)
2-4 tablespoons cream
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt, to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon thyme
2-3 ounces salt pork, cut into small pieces
Peel and boil the potatoes until they can be pierced with a fork. Cool and dice.
Scrub the clam shells thoroughly clean. Place them in a kettle with about an inch of water with the celery and bay leaf. Cover and steam over medium heat about 15 minutes, or until the shells are open wide.
Remove the clams from the broth and when cool enough to handle, cut out the meat. Chop the clam meat into nuggets no bigger than peas. (If you are using canned clams, omit this step and omit the celery and bay leaf.)
Combine the chopped clams, potatoes, and scallions with enough cream so the mixture holds together but isn’t wet. Stir in the seasonings.
In a 12-inch no-stick skillet, fry the salt pork over medium-high heat until the fat is rendered. Remove most of the “cracklin’s” and reserve them.
Add the hash to the skillet of hot fat, flattening it into a patty. Fry 10-15 minutes until crusty. Flip and fry the other side 10-15 minutes. Garnish with cracklins if desired, or with a fried egg.