I’ll keep this quick, since I have a date with my mattress.
For my November article in Chronogram (out on the first) I did a Thanksgiving recipe piece that sort of remixes the traditional dinner in what I hope is a more interesting and lower-stress way than many people are used to. A central ingredient is phở made from the turkey carcass and used to flavor several other components of the meal. The intensely aromatic pie spices in the broth are ever so compatible with things like squash and sweet potato, and dance intricately with the umami of well-prepared turkey, stuffing, and the like. So I’ve been thinking about and playing with those spices in a bunch of savory applications lately.
A while back, I wrote a post about the happy overlap between traditional phở seasonings and the spices used in Moroccan cooking- another grand tradition of pairing “sweet” spices with savory meats. And it’s a very real and very happy Venn diagram indeed. Our freezer still has a quart or two of the turkey stock left over from the article (recipe-checking and subsequent photoshoot) and said freezer also coughed up a pound of ground lamb which I had wisely bought and socked away a couple of weeks ago for such a busy day as this.
I flavored the lamb fairly strongly with cumin, ras-el-hanout, ground fennel and coriander seeds, minced garlic and preserved lemon, salt, and pepper, then let it sit for about half an hour to approach merguezitude while I got some other things ready. I wrapped morsels of the meat mixture in wonton skins and poached them in batches in the phở until they were cooked through, removing them with a strainer to bowls before adding chiffonaded black kale to the soup (just until it turned bright green) and then ladling kale and soup over the wontons.
And that was the beginning, middle, and end of dinner. Beguilingly simple, and yet so devastatingly tasty. The meat and the broth were as long-lost siblings reconnecting because Facebook suggested that they do so. It was both ends of the silk road/spice route circling around and melding deliciously, Ouroboros-style. This vein of flavor is wide and deep, and consarn it I aims to mine it hard despite the fact that I do not have a shred of a claim to either tradition. There’s gold in there, I tells ya.