International Collations

Today was pretty calm, and I made progress on some of the important Thanksgiving steps–mostly those centered around the two ducks. After they defrosted, I took them apart. The carcasses and offal, along with charred onion and ginger, cloves, star anise, cinnamon stick, garlic, and peppercorns, ended up becoming two gallons of lusciously deep-flavored duck phở. I kept it at a bare simmer the whole time, skimming often, and the result was nice and clear, but I’m still going to filter it tomorrow. It’s going to appear in a few places throughout the meal; those pie spices work wicked wonder with almost anything Thanksgivingy.

I saved the wings, though, since 8 segments made enough to build a meal around. After I put the big stock pot on the heat, I cut the wings apart and rubbed them all over with gochujang, stowing them in the fridge to marinate. Then, as it got closer to dinner, I pulled them out. I should have steamed them to tenderize the meat, but by then there wasn’t time, so I took some of the fat skimmed from the stock, poured it into a skillet, then added the wings, turning them periodically as they browned. Gochujang caramelizes to a compelling patina, as you can see.

To round out the meal, I cooked Israeli couscous in some of the phở, adding a bag of the homegrown mirepoix from the freezer. After the wings were cooked, I dumped some chopped nappa cabbage into the twice-flavored fat, deglazing with a splash of kimchi brine, and added all the shredded meat I pulled off the carcasses after the stock was finished cooking. This heady mixture I folded into the couscous along with a handful of frozen peas. Wings on top, with chives. To take this absurd multicultural pile-up even further, I opened a nice 2008 Boutari Moschofilero. Normally this sort of light white is more of a summer-type drink, but since I had it on hand (and it was 60˚ again today) I figured it would do the job. And it did; I find that Greek whites resemble similarly-priced Spanish whites in their food-friendly acidity and delicate minerality. There’s not much on the lighter half of the food spectrum that they won’t go with. Plus, at 11.5% alcohol, if you’re of the “It comes in a glass” school of drinking, it’s not too hard to polish it off. So there’s that.

Time permitting, I’ll put something up tomorrow. If not, I’ll see you on the other side. Good eating to you all.

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I'm a painter who happens to also spend a lot of time growing, making, and writing about food. I'm particularly interested in the intersection of frugal peasant cooking techniques and haute improvisation. And I have a really great personality.

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