Sheila Lukins will always occupy a place in my heart if only for the fact that she lived about 4 blocks from where I do in New York City. She was a resident of The Dakota, a fabled New York apartment building that also has the unfortunate distinction of being the place where John Lennon, who also lived there, was shot at its front door. The Dakota got its name because when it was built, it was so far north of the city center, it might as well have been in the Dakotas.
Early in James Beard’s career, he capitalized on the Cocktail Party craze by starting a company called “Hors d’oeuvres Inc.”. Sheila Lukins capitalized on her understanding that the increasing number of women in the work force needed a hand in the kitchen. With a partner called Julee Rossi, she opened a take-out shop right near her home on the Upper West Side called “The Silver Palate”. There she sold very boldly seasoned food to an audience, which, in the 1970s was in the throes of a health-food movement devoid of the rich flavors Ms. Lukins and Ms. Rossi had on offer. The pair also wrote cookbooks, which sold more than seven million copies. A feud ended the partnership and the store was first sold and then closed in 1993. Having suffered a debilitating stroke in 1991, tragically, Ms. Lukins was stricken with brain cancer in 2009 and died two months later at age 66. Her recipes survive and her cookbook is still one of my go-to sources for great home cooking.
Recipe for Sheila Lukins’ Roast Beef and Vegetable Hash
Prep Time 20 minutes. Cooking Time 20 minutes. Serves 6.
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2-pound leftover roast beef/ cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/4-pound thick-sliced bacon, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 onion, chopped
1 each red and green bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon orange zest
4 tablespoons chopped parsley
6 poached eggs, for serving
1. Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water until tender, 8 minutes. Drain and place in a large bowl with the beef.
2. Cook the bacon over medium heat to render the fat, 5 minutes. Add the onion and bell peppers; cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and add to the potatoes and roast beef, along with the nutmeg, salt, pepper, orange zest and 2 tablespoons of the parsley. Toss.
3. Spread the hash mixture evenly in the skillet and weigh it down with something heavy, like a smaller skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until golden brown on the bottom, about 5 minutes. Turn the hash over with a spatula and cook until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes.
4. Spoon the hash onto six plates; top each with a poached egg and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of parsley. Serve immediately.