Monday, November 28, 2011

Pho Sho!

I'm happy to report that our Thanksgiving dinner was a smashing success!  The surprise scene stealer was not the bourbon turkey or the fougasse stuffing, but the phenomenal balsamic braised brussels sprouts with pancetta from Smitten Kitchen.
The recipe is labor-intensive, requiring about thirty minutes of your undivided attention adding ingredient after delicious ingredient to an aggressively simmering pan, but the end result is well worth the effort: each bite contains something a bit sweet, a bit savory, a little crunchy, a tad tender, and endlessly complex.  I would call this a go-to holiday dish for the rest of the season, as well as a perfect special side to accompany any mid-winter dinner party.

And even though I'm sure that your turkey leftovers are dwindling at this point, I had to share the other culinary highlight of our weekend, something that is sure to be a new tradition on every Black Friday to come: turkey pho.
I found this recipe on food52, and immediately knew that I had to try it.  I love a leftover turkey sandwich as much as anyone, but I never like the continued sluggish feeling you get from reliving the Thanksgiving over again in leftover form.  I also suffered from a bad cold/flu thing for much of the holiday weekend (such a bummer), and was on the hunt for healing herbs and spices to rid my system of the bug.  This soup seemed like the perfect hybrid of healing remedy and innovative leftover usage.

On Friday morning I simmered the turkey bones with a carrot, apple and onion from about 8am until 1pm, creating a rich, savory broth.  I strained it and allowed it to cool so we could skim the fat from the top.  While the little man napped, I shredded a big pile of leftover turkey breast meat by hand while chatting with my mom, who cleaned two heads of lacinato kale and tore it into bite sized pieces.   In the evening, as we sipped on prosecco, I toasted a blend of aromatic spices (star anise, coriander, cloves, cinnamon sticks) in a cast iron skillet to bring out their flavor, then let them simmer with my stock, a huge pile of sliced fresh ginger, and the greens of bunch of scallions for the duration of happy hour, then strained the broth again.  Finally, I threw in a package of cellophane noodles, the shredded turkey and torn kale.  Ten minutes later, dinner was ready, set up with a fixings bar of lime wedges, chopped scallions, chopped cilantro and Sriricha. 
Everyone raved over this dinner.  It was warming, filling, soothing, and a completely different incarnation for our Thanksgiving turkey.  I'm sharing it now because even though our turkey is long gone, I plan to make this soup many times over the course of the winter; I think it is my new favorite version of a cold-mending chicken noodle soup.  You also don't need a turkey to make this happen!  You could apply the same method to a leftover roasted chicken, or make a delicious vegetarian version by simmering the spices with a veggie stock, then adding all kinds of veggies (matchstick carrots or sweet potato, spinach, bok choy or almost any leafy green come to mind).  You could also make a simple seafood version with shrimp.  I can tell you that you'll see all kinds of variations of this recipe in my kitchen throughout the coming winter; I'm a little obsessed.  So obsessed, that I've decided I may need this shirt:
The perfect stocking stuffer for your favorite foodie.
I'm not saying it is because of the soup, but my cold is gone!  And with that I say, bring on the holiday season.  And more pho!

Turkey Pho 
via food52
This recipe makes 2 big bowls, I quadrupled it to feed our family with planned leftovers.
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
4 whole cloves
4 whole star anise
1 cinnamon stick 
1 quart homemade turkey stock (or homemade or store-bought chicken stock)
1 bunch green onions (green top parts only) chopped
1 3-inch chunk of ginger, sliced and smashed with side of knife
1 teaspoon brown sugar, or more to taste
1 tablespoon fish sauce, or more to taste
1-2 cup kale, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1/2 pound leftover turkey breast, shredded
1 bunch (approx. 2 oz.) cellophane/bean thread noodles (or enough flat dried rice noodles to serve 2)
1-2 tablespoon cilantro, chopped- for garnish (optional)
1-2 tablespoon chopped green onions (white parts only), minced- for garnish (optional)
1/2 lime, cut into wedges
Sriracha chili sauce to taste

1) Toast the spices: heat a cast-iron skillet or frying pan over medium heat. Add the coriander seeds, cloves, star anise, and cinnamon stick and toast until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Immediately spoon out the spices into a bowl to avoid burning them and set aside.
2) In a large pot, add the toasted spices and all ingredients from stock through fish sauce and bring to a boil.
3) Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes, skimming the surface frequently.
Taste the broth and add more sugar or fish sauce, if needed. Strain the broth and discard the solids.
4) Add the kale and cook for 1-2 more minutes. Remove from heat.
5)Add the shredded turkey and the cellophane noodles. Allow to sit for a few minutes while the noodles soften.
6) Ladle the broth into bowls. Divide the kale, shredded turkey and the noodles evenly into each bowl. Sprinkle on the garnishes and add sriracha to taste. Squeeze lime juice to taste over the top of your bowl before eating.


  1. That Turkey Pho kicks butt! I loved it, we did it last night! Thanks SMJ!

  2. This looks delicious. I'm sure it was the ginger that shook that cold right out of your system! I froze two bags of our turkey leftovers so we could enjoy them later and not be over-turkey'd.