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.

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
  • 1 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%

Elixir Soup

Terra and elixir in Narshe“Show me the alchemist who doesn’t wish in his heart of hearts to know the secret behind making an elixir, and I’ll show you a fraud! Of course, he might already know it… but it’s taboo to reveal the ingredients.”

—Tyak, Master Chef, FFXII

Okay, so you already know to start a pot of White Mage Chicken Soup when you feel like you might be getting sick, right? Well, this is the soup to cook when you’re feeling stressed out, rundown, and in need of some serious super-strength mind and body healing power. It’s packed full of ingredients to reduce your stress levels and make you stronger.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 large yellow onion or 2 small onions, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
  • 4 medium carrots, chopped (about 1½ cups)
  • 3½ oz. shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced very thinly
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1½ pounds beef stew meat, uncooked, cut into 1″ pieces
  • ½ tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 cup dry green split peas (about 6 oz.)
  • 1 pound fresh plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 12 oz. sweet potato (1 large or 2 small), peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • Fresh oregano sprigs
  • Fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 5″ pieces of dried seaweed (optional)
  • 12 oz. broccoli florets
  • 6 oz. baby bok choy, chopped
  • 1 head of garlic (about 8–12 cloves), peeled and grated or pressed
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger (about 3 square inches)
  • Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons to ¼ cup)
  • Diced avocado and fresh basil leaves (optional)

Heat olive oil and coconut oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat just until the oil begins to shimmer. Add onions, reduce heat, and cook for about 10 minutes, covered. Stir frequently and reduce heat as needed if the onions are browning too quickly. Add carrots and mushrooms and cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

Add chicken and beef and sprinkle with sea salt, cayenne pepper, coriander, cumin, and turmeric. Brown on all sides, about 15 minutes. Stir in split peas and cook for about 1 minute. Add tomatoes and sweet potato and continue cooking for another minute. Pour in broth and bring to a boil. Add oregano, thyme, bay leaves, and seaweed. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover.

Simmer, stirring occasionally, until stew meat and split peas are soft and tender, about 2 hours.

Remove from heat and stir in broccoli, bok choy, garlic, ginger, and lemon juice. Cover and let rest for about 5 minutes, until the broccoli is bright green and crunchy-tender. Divide into bowls and top with avocado and basil, if desired.

Makes about 12 heaping 1-cup servings. Per serving (not including avocado): 319 calories, 9.2 g. fat, 3.9 g. saturated fat, 0.9 g. poly. fat, 2.5 g. mono. fat, 79.1 mg. cholesterol, 966.4 mg. sodium (this will be less if you use homemade chicken stock instead of storebought), 724.5 mg. potassium, 25.2 g. carbohydrates, 6.1 g. fiber, 34.2 g. protein, vitamin A 62%, vitamin C 58%, calcium 9%, iron 17%

Oglop-Oiled Popped Corn

Zidane in a Dali cornfield“Oglops eat vegetables?”

Princess Garnet, FFIX

You don’t have to eat microwave popcorn! Making it on the stove is easy. If you’re the kind of person who likes to cook bacon for lazy Sunday breakfasts, save the bacon fat in a ramekin in the fridge and use it for this recipe — the flavor is amazing.

If you prefer a vegetarian version, coconut oil is an excellent alternative. Oglop oil, of course, can be easily obtained in Dali’s cornfields as well as Milla’s Oil Shop in Lindblum.

  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon oglop oil, bacon fat, or coconut oil (about 14 g.)
  • 6 tablespoons of popcorn kernels (about 72 g.)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (about 14 g.)
  • Italian seasoning, crushed
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Heat the salt and oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add a few popcorn kernels and cover the pan. When they pop, add the rest of the kernels in an even layer. Cover, remove from heat, and count 30 seconds.

Return pan to heat. The kernels should begin popping soon, all at once. Once they begin popping, gently shake the pan by moving it back and forth over the burner. Keep the lid slightly vented to let the steam escape.

When the popping slows to 1 or 2 seconds between pops, remove the pan from heat and dump the popcorn immediately into a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with spices and cheese to taste. Serves 2.