Around town: Rick Sebak digs into Pittsburgh hash



Myour mom used to give us hash corned beef for dinner when I was a kid. A mix of meat and potatoes was fine, but it came out of a box, and I was worried it might look a bit like dog food.

As I got older and started to eat out, I learned that hash corned beef can be prepared in different ways and often tastes really good. Its history dates back to at least the 14th century, and the word “hash” comes from the French verb “hacher”, which means “hash”. Hash has become a wonderful breakfast option, and I order it often.

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Earlier this year, as people started to go out to eat again, I stopped for breakfast in Millvale at the Lincoln Pharmacy’s P&G Diner, and noticed that the stylish new menus feature three hashes: Corned Beef Hash, Chorizo ​​Hash and a new variation called Pittsburgh Hash. I don’t remember if it was Ely the waiter or Amanda the cook who told me that the latter was a specialty, usually on weekends, but now a regular item on the menu.

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This local hash mixes some of Lyon’s famous potatoes that you can get at the six restaurants at Pamela’s Diners (aka P&G Diners) with kielbasa and sauerkraut, all topped with melted Swiss cheese. I found it immediately delicious, perfect with two fried eggs. I especially liked that the kielbasa was very thinly sliced, what we locals might call ‘chipped’, with a nod to the old dairies of Isaly that once thrived here. The chipped kielbasa was immediately recognizable as a deeply Pittsburgh ingredient.

I wasn’t sure where Swiss cheese fits as a local topper – although the Isaly family is from Switzerland and they sell a lot of cheese as well as cured ham and skyscraper cones – I so called Pam Cohen, Pamela herself and asked, “Why Swiss cheese on the Pittsburgh Hash?” She replied simply and succinctly: “Because everything is better with cheese on top.” And she confessed that maybe she was thinking too much about food and the right combinations, saying, “There’s Swiss cheese on a Reuben sandwich, and it works great. I trusted this one.

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All of this makes for a tasty breakfast with a distinctly Pittsburgh twist. Look for it in all Pamela’s Diners, often on the menu, sometimes still a special in some places.


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