In an effort to catalog every pho joint in the county, Voracious has marshaled an army of "pho filers" to collect beef broth intelligence. At his artisan butcher shop in Melrose Market, Russ Flint is doing much the same thing.
"I just have a lot of bones," Rain Shadow Meats' Flint says of his current project to produce take-home pho. "It's obviously a learning curve."
Flint last week boiled his first test batch of soup, using a recipe vouched for by a staffer who had tried it out at home. Flint doesn't have any particular seasoning preferences - "honestly, when I'm eating pho, I'm not looking for a fine meal," he says - but wants to make sure his pho is balanced and not too sweet.
"I'm more of a ramen fan," Flint admits. "That's my ultimate goal, to do ramen stock. But I know pho is really hot right now."
According to Flint, the first two-gallon effort turned out beautifully, although he needed to skim the fat, adjust the seasoning, clarify the soup and make a few more batches before offering it for sale. "It smells great," he says.
Unlike most phos sold in restaurants, Flint's pho is made with the roasted bones of locally-raised cows.
"This is all yummy bones from well-raised animals," Flint says. "There's nothing weird in ours."
A traceable pedigree comes with a price, though: Flint plans to charge $9 for 32 ounces of broth, with thinly-sliced eye of round sold separately. He concedes the total bill is likely to be more expensive than the pho sold in dedicated restaurants.
"It's much cheaper for people to go out," Flint says. "It's ridiculously cheap."