Mandragora Sauce

Mandragoras“Upon consuming this vegetable, one loses interest in all, the will to act… quite gone. Recognized as a highly effective reagent for inducing languidness. The manner of its use is up to you. It is the lowly tomato stalk, and by all rights should be thrown away.”

—bestiary entry, FFXII

  • 5 pounds fresh tomatoes, washed well and stems removed
  • 1 large yellow onion, quartered lengthwise and sliced crosswise (about 2 cups)
  • 1 fennel bulb, ends removed, halved, and sliced thickly
  • 1 head of garlic (about 8-12 cloves), peeled
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon turbinado sugar
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 large basil sprigs
  • 2 fresh oregano sprigs

Preheat smoker or oven to 425 degrees. Spread tomatoes, onion, fennel, and garlic on a baking sheet (you may need two) and cook for about 1 hour, until tomatoes are beginning to break down and onion is lightly browned. Let cool slightly before transferring to a blender or food processor (you might have to do this in batches). Blend until combined.

Heat olive oil in the pot over medium heat until it begins to shimmer, then add red pepper and cook for about 1 minute, until fragrant. Pour the tomato puree back into the pot and add ½ cup water, salt, sugar, and pepper. Stir well, tuck in basil and oregano sprigs, and simmer over medium-low heat for 1 hour. Check flavor and add more salt if necessary. Continue simmering for about 1 more hour until the consistency is as thick as you like it.

Remove basil and oregano. Let the sauce cool, then pour into freezer-safe containers and freeze for up to 4 months. Can be used as a pasta or pizza sauce.

Queen Brahne’s Fried Chicken and Biscuits

Alexandria Castle“The queen’s favorite dish is deep-fried bat.”

—Ovenmeister, FFIX

When you’re done with this recipe, you’ll have a cup of leftover buttermilk. Use it to make South Gate Bundt Cake.

For marinating the chicken:

  • 3½–4 lbs. chicken pieces, such as breasts, drumsticks, etc.
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons hot pepper sauce, such as Cholula or Tapatio
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

For the biscuits:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for work surface
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 oz. (8 tablespoons) European-style unsalted butter, such as Kerrygold
  • 1 cup buttermilk

For dredging the chicken:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder

For frying the chicken:

  • 1 17-oz. bottle of grapeseed oil

In a shallow baking dish or large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, hot sauce, and salt. Add the chicken pieces and turn to coat well. Cover and refrigerate 2–4 hours or overnight.

Next, prepare the biscuits. Before you get started, chill the mixing bowl and a sharp knife in the fridge, and don’t get out the butter and buttermilk until you’re ready to use them. The main thing to remember with biscuits is that the butter needs to stay cold until it goes in the oven — it’s the melting butter and its rising steam while baking that gives the biscuits their delicious flakiness. You’ll want to work fast for two reasons: so the butter doesn’t melt, and so you don’t overwork the dough and make it tough. If the butter starts melting or you need to stop to take care of something else, you can always stick the dough in the fridge for a while.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in the chilled mixing bowl. Put the butter on a cutting board and toss some flour over it to keep it from sticking to your knife. Slice a thin piece of butter and use your fingers to break it into few pieces. Add to the mixing bowl and repeat until the butter is all sliced and added to the bowl. Return the bowl and the knife to the fridge for a few minutes while you prepare your work surface with a light coating of flour.

Remove bowl from the refrigerator and slowly pour in buttermilk. Mix until combined. It won’t look like dough yet, but lots of little pieces; that’s okay. Turn the dough out onto your work surface. With floured hands, gently form into a large ball and press into a rectangle. Fold the rectangle into thirds like you’re folding a letter, then fold in half. You should now have a stacked square. Press down into a rectangle about ½” thick. Use the chilled knife to cut into 8 square biscuits. Place the biscuits about 1″ apart on the baking sheet. Transfer to the fridge.

When you’re ready to start frying the chicken, whisk together the flour, salt, paprika, sage, and baking powder in a large bowl. Remove the chicken from the marinade, letting excess liquid drip off before transferring to the bowl. Turn chicken pieces until completely covered with flour.

Pour the bottle of oil into a Dutch oven or large deep-bottomed skillet. Heat the oil over medium heat. It’s ready for frying when the oil ripples slowly across the bottom of the skillet and a cube of bread sizzles gently and begins to color within about 10 to 15 seconds of being added to the oil. Place each piece of chicken in the oil. Keep in mind that you want them to fry slowly, about 30 minutes on each side, so keep your ears open to the sounds from the skillet. The chicken should fry gently, not sizzle furiously.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Bake biscuits for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from baking sheet and transfer to a serving plate.

When the chicken starts looking like it might be done, check with a meat thermometer to ensure that it’s around 180 degrees. (The drumsticks will probably be done before the breasts.) Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt and serve with the biscuits.

Mideel-Style Coq Au Vin

Mideel“You’ll have to be patient and wait this out. These things take time. Just like fine wine, time is of the essence.”

—the doctor in Mideel, FFVII

This recipe calls for half a can of light coconut milk. Use the other half of the can to make Mideel-Style Gysahl Greens. (But make sure to transfer the leftover coconut milk to a different container and refrigerate it if you aren’t going to use it right away; it’s not a good idea to refrigerate leftovers in the can.)

If you don’t usually buy rosé wine, I recommend Green Fin’s grenache rosé blend. You can find it for under $10 at Trader Joe’s.

  • 6 oz. raw bacon (about 4 slices), cut into ½” strips
  • 8 oz. carrots, scrubbed and sliced diagonally into 1”-thick pieces (about 2 cups)
  • 15 garlic cloves (about 1½ bulbs), peeled and halved, divided into two piles of 10 cloves and 5 cloves
  • 1 large yellow onion, quartered lengthwise and sliced crosswise (about 2½ cups)
  • 1½ lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1 cup rosé wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1½ cups brown jasmine rice, uncooked (about 10½ oz.)
  • Half a can of light coconut milk (about 1 cup)
  • ¾ oz. flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped

Heat a Dutch oven or large deep-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and crispy, about 10 minutes. Add carrots, 10 cloves of garlic, and onions. Reduce heat to medium and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden-brown and tender.

Add chicken pieces and season with salt and pepper.  Brown on all sides, about 10 minutes.  Slowly pour in wine, scraping up the crispy bits and increasing heat as needed, and bring to a boil.  Add bay leaves and a few sprigs of fresh thyme.  Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Stir in rice and return to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 35–40 minutes until water is absorbed. Remove lid and let sit for 5 minutes before dividing into 6 bowls.

Uncover coq au vin and cook for 15 or so minutes until sauce is slightly thickened.  Discard thyme and bay leaves and pour in coconut milk. Continue to simmer, uncovered, about 15 more minutes.

Remove from heat. Using a garlic press, add the remaining 5 cloves of garlic to the pot along with the parsley and stir well. Divide the chicken, vegetables, and wine sauce between the 6 bowls.

Makes 6 servings. Per serving (includes rice): 491 calories, 11.8 g. fat, 4.3 g. saturated fat, 0.8 g. poly. fat, 1 g. mono. fat, 80.3 mg. cholesterol, 656.4 mg. sodium, 898.6 mg. potassium, 59.5 g. carbohydrates, 9.9 g. fiber, 38.4 g. protein, vitamin A 160%, vitamin C 142%, calcium 27%, iron 19%

Zozo Pub Soup

Gau in Zozo pub“Zozo!? Never heard of it.”

—a thief, FFVI

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion or two small onions, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 head of garlic (about 8-12 cloves), peeled
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 4 pounds fresh tomatoes, washed well and stems removed
  • ½ tablespoon sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • Baguette and Gruyère cheese (optional)

Heat butter and oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.  Add onion and sauté for 5 minutes.  Stir in garlic and paprika and cook for another minute or so, until fragrant. Add tomatoes and cook until they begin to break down, about 20 minutes, stirring frequently and reducing heat as necessary so the onion and garlic don’t burn.

Remove from heat and let cool slightly before transferring to a blender or food processor (you might have to do this in batches). Blend until combined. Pour the tomato puree back into the pot and add salt and pepper to taste. Stir well and bring to a gentle simmer. Add a few thyme sprigs and bay leaf and simmer over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes.

Remove pot from heat and discard thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Stir in cream. Divide into 4 bowls and serve with toasted bread and cheese, if desired.

Makes 4 servings.  Per serving: 232 calories, 12.8 g. fat, 5.9 g. saturated fat, 1.1 g. poly. fat, 5 g. mono. fat, 28 mg. cholesterol, 925.4 mg. sodium, 1234.1 mg. potassium, 28.2 g. carbohydrates, 7 g. fiber, 5.7 g. protein, vitamin A 39%, vitamin C 88%, calcium 9%, iron 9%

Dead Pepper Hot Sauce

Zidane Tribal  in Chocobo's Forest“The Dead Pepper has been our favorite food for 5,000 years…”

—Gold Choco, FFIX

This is a thick, richly flavored hot sauce that’s great on eggs or burritos. It’s also a fantastic sauce when you’re grilling chicken — brush it over the chicken about 10 minutes before taking it off the grill.

  • 1 20-oz. mason jar
  • 2 medium tomatoes (about 8 oz.), washed well and stems removed
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
  • ½ white onion, peeled and sliced thickly
  • ½ oz. dried chiles guajillos, stems removed (about 2–4 peppers)
  • ¼ oz. dried chiles de arbol, stems removed (about 8–12 peppers)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • ½ teaspoon turbinado sugar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • ¾ cup water

Put a heavy frying pan over medium heat and toast the tomatoes, garlic cloves, and onion until they char slightly, about 20 minutes. When they’re almost done cooking, open the windows in your kitchen. If your stove has an exhaust fan, turn it on.

Push the vegetables to one side and add chiles, stirring frequently so they don’t burn. Cook for about 20 more minutes, until softened. Remove from heat and transfer the contents of the frying pan to a blender.

Add salt, oregano, sugar, olive oil, vinegar, and water. Blend well, then taste sauce. If it’s flat or bitter, add another teaspoon or so of salt and blend.

Pour the hot sauce into a mason jar or other container that can be tightly sealed. Refrigerate for at least 1 day before serving. The sauce will last about a month in the fridge.

Festival of the Hunt Stew

Festival of the Hunt in Lindblum

“I heard there are traditional Festival of the Hunt dishes. Do you know where they serve them?”

—FFIX

  • 1½ lbs. beef stew meat
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 6 oz. raw bacon, cut into ½” strips
  • 12 oz. smoked kielbasa, sliced into ¼”-thick rounds
  • 1 large yellow onion or two small onions, peeled and diced (about 1½ cups)
  • 10 oz. sliced crimini mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • 3 oz. dried pitted prunes, chopped
  • 8 oz. fresh Roma (plum) tomatoes, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 lbs. drained raw sauerkraut (4 18-oz. jars)
  • 1 sourdough baguette or cooked egg noodles

Cut the stew meat into bite-sized pieces, about 1” square. Dredge the meat in flour. (The easiest way is to put the meat and flour in a plastic bag and shake until all pieces are fully coated.) Set aside.

Heat a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the bacon, reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 10 minutes. Stir in kielbasa, onion, and mushrooms, and continue cooking until browned, about 20 more minutes. Add the stew meat in a single layer and sprinkle with caraway seeds and allspice. Brown on all sides, about 20 more minutes.

Stir in prunes, tomatoes, and salt, and cook until the tomatoes are beginning to break down, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high. Slowly pour in wine, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan as you go. Pour in beef broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, add bay leaves and peppercorns, and cover. Simmer for about 2 hours, until beef is very tender.

Remove from heat and stir in honey and sauerkraut. Set aside and grill or toast slices of sourdough bread, if using. Divide stew into bowls and serve with the grilled bread or over noodles.

Makes 7 heaping 1-cup servings. Per serving (not including bread or noodles): 398 calories, 14.4 g. fat, 4.6 g. saturated fat, 0.1 g. poly. fat, 103.3 mg. cholesterol, 1790 mg. sodium, 403.4 mg. potassium, 31.6 g. carbohydrates, 2.2 g. fiber, 37.1 g. protein, vitamin A 5%, vitamin C 60%, calcium 3%, iron 18%

Airship Salad

Aeris and airshipCid: “Wow, what a ship!”

Setzer: “That landing really messed up the engine. It’ll take a while to fix.”

Cid: “I’ll help. No machine can stump me!”

Setzer: “Don’t touch anything!”

Cid: “Go kill time in the casino! I can speed this crate up!”

—FFVI

You can use any dressing you like with this recipe. Here are two suggestions: Trader Joe’s low-fat parmesan ranch dressing, or for a more indulgent choice, Russian dressing (first three ingredients of the linked recipe).

  • 7 oz. chopped butter lettuce (about 5 cups)
  • 8 oz. cooked chicken or turkey breast, cut into strips
  • 8 oz. smoked deli ham, cut into strips
  • 4 oz. crumbled Roquefort or Gorgonzola cheese
  • 1 lb. Persian cucumbers, ends removed, cut in half, then quartered lengthwise
  • 2 fresh tomatoes, washed well and cut into wedges
  • 2 hardboiled eggs, peeled and halved lengthwise
  • 1 ripe avocado, peel and pit removed, sliced thinly lengthwise
  • 6 oz. raw bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled, warm (optional)
  • Watercress sprigs or microgreens, for garnish (optional)
  • Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
  • Salad dressing

Divide ingredients evenly between 4 bowls. Drizzle with dressing and serve immediately.

Per serving (does not include salad dressing): 509 calories, 27 g. fat, 17 g. carbohydrates, 8 g. fiber, 47 g. protein, iron 12%