Kate Johnson: Using the old to ring in the new (recipe)

After a season of imbibing in delicious, but often excessive, fare it is nice to find some lighter food options for kicking off the New Year.
A favorite post-holiday dinner is Pho with fresh spring rolls. Using leftover carcass or bones and meat from holiday meals is a nice way to transition into a fresher, leaner diet. To keep the process low stress, it is easy to freeze these leftovers to pull out after the holiday glitter settles.
Turkey carcass, prime rib or crown roast of pork meat and bones can all produce a delicious broth. If, however, you prefer to hit the snow for some activities in lieu of cooking the base broth or, if you prefer vegetarian, than any good quality store bought broth will suffice. Making Pho is easy, flexible, light and tasty.
Fresh spring rolls are a fabulous addition and can be eaten afterward as a quick lunch or snack if stored properly. If making spring rolls is a bigger project than you have planned, simply purchase some store-bought pot stickers and steam them up to accompany your soup.
Pho Base: Make ahead
6 qts water or stock of your choosing
Carcass, meaty bones and/or marrow bones if making stock from scratch. Roast bones for more flavor
1 large onion (skin on)
3-4 inch piece of ginger (skin on)
2 tbs brown sugar
1-1/2 tsp salt
½ tsp white pepper
1 whole star anise
1 2-inch piece of cinnamon
1 whole clove
Roast onion and ginger (skin on) at 350 for one hour until very soft. Remove from oven, cool, peel and quarter onion and slice ginger in coin size pieces.
For homemade stock, place all ingredients except the anise, cinnamon and clove into water in large stockpot, heat to boil, reduce to simmer, skim top when necessary. Simmer for up to 6 hours. (In the Instant Pot – cook all ingredients for 45-75 minutes (chicken for 45 – meaty bones 75) with a 30-minute release. Place stock (homemade or store bought) into a pot; add any remaining ingredients (for store bought that includes the sugar, salt and pepper) plus anise, cinnamon and clove. Simmer for 1 hour. Drain through a fine mesh colander for a nice clear broth, cool and skim fat.
Assembling your Pho:
Place rice stick noodles in a shallow pan and pour boiling water over the top. Stir until noodles are cooked (usually only a few minutes). Rinse with cool water and sprinkle with sesame oil.
Place noodles, thinly sliced meat (turkey, brisket, prime rib, pork loin, etc.) or just fresh al dente vegetables of your choice into the clear broth then season with fish sauce, Sriracha sauce and/or Hoisin sauce. Sprinkle with fresh chopped scallions and cilantro; add fresh basil, bean sprouts and sliced jalapeno and a squeeze of fresh lime.
Spring Rolls:
You can add any NUMBER of the following or something you personally love…
Rice wrappers (keep fry pan with simmering water next to your area for assembly)
Rice noodles (cooked as above)
Cabbage – coarsely chopped
Romaine Lettuce – coarsely chopped
Ground pork – cooked, rinsed and allowed to dry
Shrimp – cleaned, shelled, cooked and deveined sliced in half length wise
Mango – cut into sticks
Carrot – pre-bagged grated is great
Cucumber – cut into sticks
Basil – leaves
Cliantro – leaves
Dip your rice paper on both ends into the simmering water, lay out on a work surface and add to the middle some rice noodles, and any other item from the list. Roll 1-2 times before folding the ends. After folding the ends, add 1-2 long chives sticking out one end for decoration, if you would like to decorate further, place two or three slices of shrimp on the outside edge. Finish rolling it up nice and tight, ending at the shrimp edge.
Peanut Sauce: Make ahead
Heat 2 tbs hot oil and add two cloves of crushed garlic. Add ¼ cup Sweet Chili sauce (can substitute Hoisin if you prefer) and heat. Add two tablespoons peanut butter and continue heating while stirring in up to ¼ cup of broth. Continue heating until blended well. I like my sauce spicy, so I add a little red chili in oil to give it a kick. Top with crushed nuts.
I usually make a couple dozen spring rolls so I might double or even triple the dipping sauce recipe. Then I wrap each roll in plastic wrap and place in an airtight container. We then enjoy these delicious munchies over the next few days for a quick snack or a lunch with some left over Pho. Pairs well with a good quality cold Sake or Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc. Welcome to the New Year!!
Kate Johnson is a long-time resident of Carson City. She is an avid gardener, cook, musician and lover of dogs.


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