In addition to the obvious use in flavoring pickles or pickled vegetables or fruits, pickling spices are the "secret ingredient" in some outstanding meat dishes.
My dear Mother-in-law Rose always tossed a handful of pickling spices among the vegetables (carrots, onions, celery, parsley) that she roasted beneath her turkey or roast beef.
First thing first though...what is "Pickling Spice"? It is a mixture of many whole and crushed spices. To make your own mix This web site lists the main ingredients as: "cinnamon, mustard seed, bay leaves, allspice, dill seed, cloves, ginger, peppercorns, coriander, juniper berries, mace, and cardamom. For a hotter mix, add some crushed hot peppers."
Mixes are available from major spice companies such as
McCormick. They list the ingredients as "CINNAMON, ALLSPICE, MUSTARD SEED, CORIANDER, BAY LEAVES, GINGER, CHILIES, CLOVES, BLACK PEPPER, MACE, AND CARDAMOM"
The pricier Penzeys lists their ingredients as
"yellow and brown Canadian mustard seeds, Jamaican allspice, cracked China cassia, cracked Turkish bay leaves, dill seed, Zanzibar cloves, cracked China ginger, Tellicherry peppercorns, star anise, Moroccan coriander, juniper berries, West Indies mace, cardamom and medium hot crushed red peppers."
A quick google search of the terms "meat pickling spice" shows
the following dishes all have this "secret ingredient".
Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
Greek-Style Meat Sauce
Various brines for meats
Various ways of cooking game meats