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Beef & Mushroom Pho

While we are about 75% vegetarian and have integrated more and more vegan dishes into our repertoire, a couple times a year I buy either beef short ribs or flank steak or brisket as a treat for my husband. I buy directly from the good folks down the road at Skagit River Ranch, who only sell organic, pastured (100% grass fed) beef along with their organic pastured pork and chicken. It's tastier than what you buy at most co-ops (sadly, my husband's store doesn't carry local, organic, pastured meat! They greenwash by selling products whose parent companies are some of the biggest offenders on the planet - something I'll write about in a future post, I promise), and it ensures the money goes directly to the source instead of forcing them to accept wholesale prices.

Honestly, I don't have a particular craving for beef, to be honest. I've never liked those massive patties on burgers and would always make my own ground chicken or turkey burgers, only buying ground beef if it was mixed with ground pork to make our super special meatball subs (again, which we consider a treat because of the high meat content and the higher cost of buying good quality sustainable/humanely-raised product). But about 15 or so years ago, I experimented with the low-and-slow that are what short ribs love, and was pretty impressed. It didn't make me crave beef, but it definitely changed the taste of them and garnered an appreciation I'd not had before.

So anyhow, I decided to modify a recipe for Beef Noodle Pho in our Southeast Asian cookbook that we've experimented from frequently, Hot Sour Salty Sweet, and with that, tag-teamed with my sweetheart in the kitchen to make a really crazy-good pho.

It definitely gave me respect for the time it takes to make a kick-ass pho broth, let me tell you. I started this at 9AM...and we ate it for dinner, y'all. But the broth was spectacular, and every step in the process was a learning experience, from the low and slow cooking, to the refrigerating of the broth for 2 hours, to the various toppings that were essential to the overall flavor - fresh basil and cilantro, lime juice mixed with salt & pepper, mung bean sprouts, ginger and more.

The original recipe is FAR more beef-heavy than I wanted to put in my body (or spend money on) - it literally had three kinds of beef in it, ugh! I knew my tummy wasn't going to go crazy for that much cow in it either, so I quartered a ton of big beaufiful organic crimini mushrooms to sub for one of them, then just ignored the third that would have been added at the very end.

Ironically, while the broth was good? It wasn't GREAT like our typical veggie broths. I far more prefer the complexity of a gorgeous veggie broth over this star-anise and fish-sauce focused one, and since the mushrooms were such a big hit with this pho, we know that our next endeavor will be to make a beautiful vegan pho.

See how that worked? A beef dish inspired me to veganize it for MORE flavor...not less. Love it. LOVE it.


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