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Hillyer Hash -- A Comstock family recipe


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With St. Patrick's Day just around the corner, I thought this recipe appropriate.   It comes from The Virginia City Cookbook I've had in my possession for over 50 years and contains recipes going back to the heyday of the Comstock.

 

Curtis J. Hillyer was the attorney for the Ophir Mine during the bonanza days.  His son went to the Fourth Ward School and remembers that back then entertainment as well as work was an around-the-clock affair.   Breakfast was a popular occasion and this dish was served often for these early monrning affairs.  Curtis's granddaughter Katie provided this recipe for the cookbook:

 

"Simmer 4 pounds of corned beef at low temperature until tender.   This will take longer in Virginia City that at lower altitudes.  Keep the water replenished as it cooks----the meat should always be covered.  When done, remove the meat and, in the same water, cook a small cabbage, quartered, 3 medium potatoes, and 1 or 2 large onions.  In separate water cook medium-sized beets; this is so they won't tint the other vegetables with their rosey hue.  Now chop the meat, in an old-fashioned wooden chopping bowl if you're so blessed----otherwise use a French knife and board.  Anyway, it should be very fine.  Chop the vegetables too, then combine the works.  A bit of judicious seasoning is in order, too.  Some pepper, salt if needed, a suspicion of tabasco, and a very little Worcestershire sause.   Allow this to blend overnight, then turn into a heavy shallow pan that has been well buttered, brush the top with butter, and bake in a hot oven until brown.  Turn out on a platter and serve with toast."

 

Trivia included with the recipe:

 

The Hillyer family, residing in Virginia City during the bonanza days of the 1870s, followed the then established custom of calling all their Chinese help 'Charlie'.  One Charlie they'd had for a long time, until one day Mrs. Hillyer realized that the Oriental in the kitchen looked different.  "Why, you're not Charlie," she exclaimed.  Answered the man, "Charlie he go two weeks.  Charlie go back China."

 

 

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On 3/14/2020 at 6:51 PM, Cheaux said:

 

 

Trivia included with the recipe:

 

The Hillyer family, residing in Virginia City during the bonanza days of the 1870s, followed the then established custom of calling all their Chinese help 'Charlie'.  One Charlie they'd had for a long time, until one day Mrs. Hillyer realized that the Oriental in the kitchen looked different.  "Why, you're not Charlie," she exclaimed.  Answered the man, "Charlie he go two weeks.  Charlie go back China."

 

 

 

Bonanza got no Chinese Charley. We have had our Hop Sing and that name is far better. The line "Back to China" is so funny and , as we know now, very real. 

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