Clark Haass was raised in Casper, has three college degrees, and has an obsession with hash -- diced up meat and potatoes, or ingredients far more exotic.
His blog has become a cookbook, "Hashcapades -- The Art of the Perfect Hash Adventure," and it's been reviewed from coast to coast.
Living in Portland, Ore., where he works for Intel, Haass is the son of Marj Haass of Casper and the late Herb Haass, longtime Southridge Elementary principal and later, Central Services staffer.
Haass, 49, graduated from Natrona County High School in 1982 (after attending Crest Hill Elementary and Dean Morgan Junior High) and has been in the Pacific Northwest since earning a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering. A master's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Washington and a Master's in Business Administration from Boise State University followed.
"The genesis of the book was a smoked trout hash I had at a restaurant in Portland in 2007," Haass said last week. "It made me start to be interested in what you could do with a pile of ingredients."
In 2008, his "girlfriend at the time," (although he says this had nothing to do with an eventual breakup), told him "no one would ever read a book about hash."
Spurred by that challenge, Haass began finding or creating two recipes for hash a week and blogging about it at hashcapades.com to generate content.
"I wrote about hashes I ate at restaurants, including Eggington's in Casper, and hashes I created," he said.
The hardcover book is available from his website, hashcapades.com, as well as electronically on iTunes, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
"I think people will love that there is a color photo for each and every recipe, because you're going to feel more willing to make something if you know what it will look like," Haass said.
The website is a virtual tribute to hash and includes a clever video that is a must-watch.
According to Haass, there are four important components to a good hash.
"Overall plating and appearance, is it nice and moist (perhaps an egg on top or a good sauce), the proportion of meat to potato or other ingredients to each other, and the portion size -- you don't need enough leftovers (of the leftovers) to last four days," he said.
Haass said he thinks the book "is a fun book to read, and I think my personality comes through."
There are bonuses in the book aside from the recipes, including a section on hash trivia with entries including hash tag and hash key, also known as the pound sign.
Haass admits in the book's introduction that hash begins with a pile of leftovers.
"You have complete control of the reincarnation that is hash," he says.
And he invites readers to think of his cookbook as "your beginning guide to unlimited adventures, adulation from family and friends, and reduced carbon footprint from your leftovers."
Haass predicts that there is a sequel in his future.
"I would like to find a fossilized hash in central Africa perhaps," Haass joked. "But this time, I would like to pursue a publisher."
Here are some recipes from the pages of "Hashcapades -- The Art of the Perfect Hash Adventure."
This is the "hash that started it all," according to Haass, that he enjoyed at the now-closed Roux in Portland.
Smoked Trout Hash with Poached Egg
Serves 3 to 4
2 Yukon gold potatoes, cubed no bigger than 1/4 inch
1/4 onion, finely chopped
6 ounces smoked trout, diced no bigger than 1/4 inch
2 tablespoons crème fraiche
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill, sprigs reserved
1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
2. Toss the potatoes in a skillet with the oil over medium high heat; sauté for 15 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, poach or fry the eggs and keep them warm in the oven.
4. Add the onions to the potatoes and cook for 5 minutes.
5. Remove from the heat; mix in the trout, crème fraiche, and dill.
6. Spoon the hash onto plates, reserving a little for garnish.
7. Top with the eggs; garnish with a dollop of hash and a sprig of dill.
Red Flannel Hash*
Serves 3 to 4
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound top sirloin, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3/4 cup chopped red onion
1 teaspoon Kosher salt, divided
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 head small red cabbage, shredded or grated
2 medium red beets, grated (about 2 cups)
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/4 cup crème fraiche
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
* meat may be omitted to make it vegetarian
1. Heat a medium skillet over medium high heat. Add the oil. When it starts to shimmer, add the sirloin and cook for about 4 minutes to medium rare. Remove the meat and set aside.
2. Add the onions, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, garlic, and a pinch of pepper to the skillet; sauté for about 5 minutes.
3. Add the cabbage, beets, water, vinegar, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook for 8–10 minutes, just until the cabbage starts to wilt and the water almost evaporates.
4. Add the sirloin, juices and all, to heat through. Check the seasoning and adjust if needed.
5. Serve the hash topped with a dollop of the crème fraiche and the dill.
(Adapted from Cooking Light, March 2011)
Here is a sample of the folksy notes that accompany recipes in "Hashcapades."
It all started out innocently enough as I read the upbeat e-mail from my nephew, Erik, suggesting a red flannel hash. For the uninitiated, red flannel gets its name from the bright (I do mean bright) red color bestowed by grated red beets and red cabbage that resembles flannel. See what I mean? Who knew iconic grunge wear tasted divine?
Chipotle BBQ Flank Steak Texas Hash
Serves 3 to 4
1 pound Trader Joe’s Flat Iron in Chipotle Pepper BBQ
6 cups water
1 cup basmati rice
1 red onion, hashed
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 cup Trader Joe’s Kansas City BBQ Sauce
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1. Grill the meat for 6-8 minutes per side; let cool and hash. Alternatively, sear in a skillet over medium high for 2 minutes on each side; turn heat to medium and cook to desired level of doneness. Let cool and hash.
2. Bring the water to a boil.
3. Add the rice, keeping the boil going for 8–10 minutes.
4. Drain the rice in a colander and set aside.
5. Sauté the onion in a big frying pan with the oil for about 5 minutes or until tender.
6. Add the meat, chili powder, BBQ sauce, and tomato sauce; simmer for 5 minutes.
7. Add the rice, heat through.
Smoked Brisket Hash
Serves 3 to 4
2 pounds russet potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) real butter
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1 tablespoon Emeril Creole Seasoning
2 pounds diced Podnah’s Pit Beef Brisket, smoked brisket from any BBQ place, or any BBQ beef
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
1/3 cup crème fraiche
1/3 cup Podnah’s Pit BBQ Sauce or Stubbs BBQ Sauce
1 cup chopped green onion
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
1. Mix the potatoes, oil, salt, and pepper on a rimmed baking sheet and place in the oven for 25–30 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked but not mushy. Remove and set aside.
2. Heat a skillet over medium high, add the butter then the sweet onions. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
3. To caramelize, reduce the heat to medium low and cook for 15–20 minutes or until the onions start to turn golden brown. Remove from the heat.
4. In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, onions, creole seasoning, brisket, parsley, crème fraiche, BBQ sauce, and green onions.
5. Mix thoroughly and test for seasoning. Add more salt, pepper, and BBQ sauce as you wish.
6. Transfer to a 13×9-inch baking dish, cover with foil, and store overnight in the fridge.
7. The next day preheat the oven to 350, bake the hash for 30 minutes, and serve with extra BBQ sauce.