Nutmeg is incredibly versatile, and adds a warm, nutty, holiday-spice flavor when added to your cooking. It pairs nicely with meats for a subtly sweet complement, and is integral to good gingerbread and eggnog. Here are some creative ideas for using this unique and delicious spice.
Nutmeg Use #1: Drinks
Let’s start with a classic. A cool (or warm) and frothy glass of eggnog can really hit the spot during the holidays. Nutmeg is a complementary addition, whether mixed into the recipe or sprinkled on as garnish. Nutmeg goes beyond eggnog, though. Try it mixed into coffee, tea, or cocoa. Better yet, use it to add a touch of spice to homemade smoothies or to make your glass of orange juice more interesting.
Nutmeg Use #2: Meats
Nutmeg is usually considered a sweet spice, but putting it to use in savory dishes can bring out a delicious contrast with spicy and salty seasonings. Just as the best artists often lay a base of a severely contrasting color – a layer of green before painting a face, say – the best cooking often includes a hint of a contrasting flavor to bring out the main seasonings more clearly. A light touch is key here. A little nutmeg goes a long way, and it’s much better to hear, “Mmm, there’s this subtle…exotic flavor. I can’t quite pin it down,” than “This pot roast tastes like gingerbread. What did you put in here, nutmeg?”
Nutmeg Use #3: Curries and Stir-Fries
As many of you know, curry is not actually a spice, but a whole range of dishes cooked with a highly-spiced sauce or gravy. Curries and stir-fries are easy to experiment with; curries often use customized blends of spices, and stir-fries can be made out of just about anything you’ve got in the kitchen. Slip in a little nutmeg for a nutty burn that can hide behind the spicier, saltier ingredients while still adding its own distinct flavor.
Nutmeg Use #4: Ice Cream Topping
Nutmeg is delicious on ice cream. Enough said? No? Ok, it’s also wonderful in milkshakes, puddings, malts, root beer floats, and frozen yogurt. Still not satisfied? Try the faintest hint in some tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich. Not for everyone, but you might just be surprised. (I know that’s not ice cream; this is more the dairy-products section.)
Nutmeg Use #5: Poultry
Last but not least, nutmeg goes great with chicken and poultry dishes. Whether lightly dusting the skin of a rotisserie chicken or adding a subtle twist to a chicken pot pie, nutmeg judiciously used can add delicious variety to any poultry dish. And, speaking of chickens, there are those who swear by adding a dusting of nutmeg to the eggs for an omelet.