Beast-feast, part deux...
November 24, 2010 6:23 AM   Subscribe

Can you please help me think of some interesting meat+spice/seasoning combinations that I wouldn't think of on my own?

My father is a very talented chef who doesn't cook very often now that he's retired. So when he offers to cook for family gatherings, it's a big exciting deal. In celebration of our family getting together for Thanksgiving, he's offered to cook one meal (NOT the Thanksgiving meal). To make it more fun and challenging for himself, he wants to make a game out of it.

The rules: we get to choose two meats (think "salmon" or "beef tenderloin" rather than "fish" or "moo-cow") and then choose one spice/seasoning/flavor for each that will serve as his starting point to throw something together on the fly. (Last year he did a beef tenderloin that was slow cooked on the grill with a Bordeaux/maple syrup reduction sauce that was so out-of-this-world amazing that he's going to have a hard time topping it)

I am not very good at coming up with flavor combinations that don't involve my scotchy scotch scotch, so I turn the Hivemind for help. What would your dream meat+flavor combo be? The only restriction is that my mom doesn't really like spicy foods, so perhaps go easy on the fire. Thanks, everyone!
posted by Osrinith to Food & Drink (18 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Really any meat with ras el hanout is a treat, and probably not something your father has made before.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:29 AM on November 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

So are you looking for uncommon combinations that are actually good? If so, then pork and cocoa nibs. You can make awesome rubs with it. Also, pork tenderloin and allspice.
posted by monkeymadness at 6:44 AM on November 24, 2010

Beef is really delicious and interesting with cinnamon. Smoked salmon goes really well with chocolate. Chicken is great with rose.

Some of us more modern-minded chef-types love following the "They Go Really Well Together" series at, as well as the backlogs of Ideas in Food.

Kudos to you for allowing the chef in your family to make something interesting and fun!

My family wants turkey.
posted by sindas at 6:44 AM on November 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Just about any meat with Jerk seasoning.
posted by Ahab at 7:04 AM on November 24, 2010

Moose stew meat, goose, sage.
Rabbit, duck, tea.
posted by plinth at 7:07 AM on November 24, 2010

Sorry. Missed the bit about the heat. You'd want to leave the chillies out of the jerk seasoning.

Here's a Thai/Khmer one that goes really well with either fish or chicken. The key flavor is the coriander/cilantro root. Rub it in and leave to marinate for an hour or three. Then barbecue.

1/2 Tablespoon black peppercorns, ground
5 cloves garlic
3 Tablespoons minced coriander/cilantro root
1 Tablespoon fish sauce

Serve with a sweet chili sauce.
posted by Ahab at 7:11 AM on November 24, 2010

If you brine a piece of salmon or trout in a strong, cooled and salted Lapsang Souchong tea - a really dark, smokey-tasting tea - and then cook it, it comes out tasting like a big, moist, tender mouthful of smoked salmon. Lox, some places call it?

Cumin, salt and ground coffee (real, good, freshly-ground coffee, not pre-ground or God help us all instant coffee because, listen, we're not a bunch of filthy backwards savages here) makes a surprisingly good dry rub for for steaks, flank steak in particular.

Both of these things are delicious.
posted by mhoye at 8:21 AM on November 24, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Pork chops and cinnamon.
posted by sanka at 9:04 AM on November 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Another Thai thing: larp/larb/laab, or minced pork salad. Works pretty well with minced chicken, too, if I recall.

The main flavoring is paste made out of a crapload of roasted, smashed garlic cloves, Thai chilis, roasted sesame seeds, minced lemongrass (the stuff in a tube by the herbs at the grocery store works okay in a pinch -- a lot less strain on your hands!). This is where you can adjust the heat; it doesn't have to be very spicy at all.

Wilt some finely chopped shallots/red onions in a pan with some oil, drop the paste in to open the flavors, brown the meat and mix it up, serve with a crapload of chopped cilantro and mint with a good squirt of lime.

The cinnamon/pine nut combination is a good North African/Mediterranean mix. I think this one gets forgotten about because so many "ethnic" combinations (in the hands of eager but less-skilled cooks) are either spicy-hot or just very noticeable, but this is a really pleasant thing that just about anyone could like.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention my partner's one true food love: Dr. Pepper ham.
posted by Madamina at 9:11 AM on November 24, 2010

pork loin with caraway or fennel seed
posted by SomeTrickPony at 9:25 AM on November 24, 2010

beef tenderloin? Well, lavender and black pepper are an interesting combination. You ride the line on tasting of soap and something very interesting.

Lavender is unusual to pair in general but that is the challenge.
posted by jadepearl at 9:42 AM on November 24, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers thus far, everyone! I'll let you know what he decides to do and how it ends up tasting.
posted by Osrinith at 9:59 AM on November 24, 2010

Pork loin and ginger.

I knew a chef who used to marinate pork loin in a mixture of soy sauce, sliced fresh ginger, and crushed garlic cloves. SO GOOD.
posted by ErikaB at 10:35 AM on November 24, 2010

my husband recently made bacon with cinnamon and cardamom and it was DELICIOUS!!!!
posted by supermedusa at 10:58 AM on November 24, 2010

fish is delicious baked in foil with Tom Yum paste
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:03 PM on November 24, 2010

lamb or beef with rosemary and orange zest.
fish with saffron, paprika, and orange zest.
beef with cinnamon (just a bit) and oregano
posted by thinkingwoman at 1:49 PM on November 24, 2010

Maybe not unusual per se so much as over the top intense, involving zillions of spices and a lot of them. From my recipe notebook.

Whoamygoodness, this has to be hands down the most spices I've ever used in a single dish, both quantity and variety. North African Spiced Chicken Drumsticks from the NYT Jewish Cookbook. Included, offhand what I can remember: allspice, coriander, cardamom, ginger, star anise, fenugreek, smoked paprika, cinnamon, nutmeg, turmeric, cayenne, and mustard powder. It's an extremely effective way to clean out your spice pantry if stuff's on the verge of expiring, I must say. And other than having all those spices on hand, it couldn't be simpler: you toast all the spices to release their fragrant oils, stir in a bit of peanut oil, dry wine, and orange juice to form a paste the consistency of wet sand, and pack said paste onto drumsticks (it's fun, it feels like building a sandcastle). Let 'em sit covered and refrigerated for a couple hours, then grill. That's it.

The best smelling spice-toasting session I've ever had, and how.

Pics 1, 2
posted by ifjuly at 7:51 AM on November 25, 2010

And not spices per se, but fruit with meat is an old timey thing that's gaining popularity again, maybe...I love it. Apples and cream with bratwurst, pomegranate juice and seeds in braised chicken dishes, roasting grapes and hot Italian sausage together, pork medallions with plums, prunes, or dried cranberries, etc. So good.
posted by ifjuly at 7:52 AM on November 25, 2010

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