Bette Davis' Favorite Breakfast Hash Starred Corned Beef And Beets

With all the fiery characters she brought to life on screen, playing a domestic goddess may seem a little out of character for her. But in real life, Bette Davis knew her way around the kitchen. Do a quick search online for "Bette Davis recipes" and you'll discover how the Hollywood star had her ways of preparing drinks, main courses, and desserts; she even had a recipe for mustard gelatin rings, which is a kind of aspic

One that sounds simple and delicious is Davis' red flannel hash recipe. A New England dish, red flannel hash is a tasty and hearty plate that allows you to use leftover corned beef and potatoes from a St. Patrick's Day celebration, with beets added in. Beets are actually central to the dish since they add pops of color reminiscent of a red flannel pattern. They also provide the sweetness that balances the corned beef's saltiness for a filling and well-rounded breakfast.

Born in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1908, Davis' affinity for the dish went beyond her New England roots. As her long-time assistant Kathryn Sermak revealed to The Spectrum, the actress loved potatoes so much that her nickname was Spuds.

Davis' recipe, featured in Frank DeCaro's "The Dead Celebrity Cookbook," is simple: Two cups of cooked corned beef, 3 cups of cold boiled potatoes, and 1.5 cups of cooked beets are chopped, mixed together, and seasoned with cream before they're poured into a "hot, buttered ironware frying pan" where they're cooked over medium heat until they turn brown.

The ingredients for red flannel hash must be finely chopped

What differentiates Davis' recipe is she didn't mention pressing down on the mixture of corned beef, beets, and potatoes while they cook in the pan; she merely instructed stirring and spreading it evenly. Squashing down the ingredients, usually with the help of a potato masher, is a step done when cooking regular corned beef hash since it allows the dish to form a golden crust at the bottom. You can do the same when making red flannel hash so you end with a lightly crisped breakfast. It will also caramelize the beets further, enhancing their natural sweetness.

Whether you follow Davis' recipe to the letter or not, remember to chop the corned beef, beets, and potatoes finely. This lets them have a more uniform size while still retaining their respective natural textures that make breakfast hash enjoyable to bite into.

Top your red flannel hash with eggs to make it more rustic. Davis recommended serving it with a poached egg, but a fried egg works, too. New Englanders can be finicky with this dish in different ways. For some, cooking red flannel hash with eggs is a must since it is breakfast fare whereas others treat it as a dish meant for supper, served with baked beans and coleslaw. It is also common to receive your diner order of red flannel hash with some apple cider vinegar on the side, which is used to further season the dish.