Costa Del Sol Carnitas Tacos

Cloud and Mukki in Costa Del Sol“Damn! Sure is hot here! But I sure feel better now that I can say good-bye to this sailor suit.”

—Barret Wallace, FFVII

  • 4 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 4 pieces
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons freshly-ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons dried Mexican oregano
  • 2 heads of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 32 corn tortillas
  • 1 red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 4 ripe avocados, peeled and sliced
  • 4 thinly sliced red radishes
  • 8 limes, cut into wedges
  • Flaky sea salt

Place the pork in a casserole dish. Combine the salt, pepper, cumin, and oregano and sprinkle all over the pork. Marinate in the refrigerator, covered, for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Peel most of the papery outer skin from a whole head of garlic, leaving the bulb intact. Trim a half-inch off the top to expose the cloves inside. Repeat with the second bulb. Tuck the bulbs between the pork pieces, cut sides facing up, and drizzle with olive oil.

Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake for about 90 minutes. Remove the foil, reduce heat to 300 degrees, and bake for 30 minutes. Turn the pork pieces and bake for 30 more minutes.

Remove the casserole dish from the oven and allow the pork to cool. When it’s cool enough to handle, shred the meat, removing bits of fat. Warm the tortillas over the stove.

Serve tacos with cabbage, avocado, and radishes. Squeeze a lime wedge and some soft garlic on top before eating and sprinkle with sea salt. Makes 32 tacos, enough to serve 8–10 people.

Selphie’s Pizza Party

Sephie and Squall“Approach your target inconspicuously at a dance party… There may be missions requiring this sort of subterfuge. It’s expected of SeeD to learn various skills.”

—Squall Leonhart, FFVIII

  • 2 16-ounce balls of pizza dough
  • 8 ounces pizza sauce
  • 8 ounces burrata cheese
  • 5 ounces sliced pepperoni
  • Fresh oregano
  • Fresh Parmesan-Reggiano cheese
  • Crushed red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and let rise for 30 minutes.

Use your hands or a rolling pin to flatten and stretch the first ball of dough. Transfer to a baking sheet or floured pizza peel and spread with half the pizza sauce. Tear open a ball of burrata and drizzle the cream all over the sauce. Pull the cheese into shreds and arrange evenly on the pizza. Top with half the pepperoni and sprinkle with oregano.

Transfer the pizza to a baking sheet or pizza stone and bake for about 10 minutes, until cheese is bubbling and crust is golden. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Repeat with the second pizza and serve with grated Parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes.

Makes 4 servings. Per serving: 873 calories, 31 g. fat, 109 g. carbohydrates, 8 g. fiber, 38 g. protein, iron 27%

Ivalice Stewed Chicken with Olives

Ivalice“Food would be a start—the good stuff, mind you.”

—Balthier, FFXII

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ yellow onion, peeled, quartered lengthwise and sliced thickly crosswise (about 1½ cups)
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
  • One 2-ounce can anchovies, drained and chopped
  • 1½ lbs. skinless boneless chicken thighs, uncooked
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ras el hanout
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 cups beef broth, divided
  • 8 ounces fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup (180 grams) whole-wheat couscous
  • 1 12-ounce jar pitted Kalamata olives, drained
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven or large, deep oven-safe skillet with lid.  Add onion and garlic and sauté for 10 minutes, stirring frequently and reducing heat as needed to prevent burning. Add anchovies and spices and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Push anchovies and vegetables to the side and add chicken. Sprinkle with flour and season with salt and pepper. Brown on all sides, about 15 minutes.

Slowly pour in the wine, scraping the bottom of the pan. When the wine is at a simmer, slowly pour in ½ cup broth. Add tomatoes and their juices. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and cover. Simmer for about 30 minutes, until chicken is very tender.

Uncover and stir in olives. Cook for 15 or so minutes until sauce is slightly thickened.

Meanwhile, place couscous in a large Tupperware container. Heat 1½ cups broth to boiling and pour over the couscous, stirring once to make sure that the liquid is evenly distributed. Cover tightly and set aside for at least 10 minutes.

Fluff couscous with a fork and divide into 4 bowls, about 4 ounces of couscous per person. Divide stew into each bowl, sprinkle with parsley, and serve.

Rikku’s Mix

Rikku's Mix Overdrive“A little bit of this, a little bit of that…”

—Rikku, FFX-2

Do you have half-empty bags of egg noodles, brown rice, and elbow macaroni in your cupboard that never seem to get used up? Frozen hashbrowns that are heading towards freezer burn? Random cans of salmon, sardines, or tuna that just get pushed to the back? Use this recipe as a blueprint for fusing your stockable items to create something more delicious. You can include any cheeses you like, but if you’re having trouble deciding, a high-quality white cheddar is especially good. Grate it yourself instead of buying the pre-shredded kind, which is coated with additives to prevent clumping.

  • 12 ounces of dried pasta or rice, or 20 ounces frozen cooked potatoes, thawed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion or two small onions, peeled, quartered lengthwise and sliced thickly crosswise
  • 2 leeks, trimmed, halved, thickly sliced, and rinsed well
  • Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 2½ cups (20 ounces) chicken broth
  • 1¼ cup (10 ounces) half-and-half
  • 6 ounces cheese, grated
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce (such as Crystal)
  • 2 6-ounce cans of fish (such as salmon, tuna, or sardines), drained
  • 8 oz. frozen peas or other vegetables (about 1½ cups), thawed
  • 2 ounces panko, crushed potato  chips, or parsnip chips
  • 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (about ¼ cup)
  • A dash of smoked paprika
  • 1 lemon, washed well
  • Fresh dill
  • Fresh chives

Prepare the pasta  or rice according to package directions but slightly undercooking it by a few minutes.

In a large oven-safe skillet or Dutch oven, melt the butter and olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and leeks and cook, stirring occasionally and seasoning with salt and pepper, until soft and golden, about 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Slowly pour in wine and continue cooking, scraping the bottom of the pan, until pan is almost dry, about 2 minutes.

Add flour and stir until onion and leeks are coated. Stir in broth and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium and stir in half-and-half. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until mixture is bubbling. Stir in cheese and hot sauce, then add fish and peas. Break the fish up with a spatula, add pasta, and stir until combined.

Turn off heat and sprinkle evenly with panko or chips, Parmesan cheese, and paprika. Bake uncovered until bubbly around the edges, about 15–20 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes, then zest one-quarter of the lemon over the top. Use scissors to trim fresh dill and chives over the top. Ladle into bowls and serve immediately. Makes 8 servings.

Steakhouse-Style Mandragora

Mandragoras in FFVII“Thought to be a variant of mandragora, for the vines that reach up from its collar, covering its face like a mask. Notes the famed naturalist, Merlose: ‘It weareth its skin in layers, much like to the root of similar name, perhaps for the proffering of protection ‘gainst the cold.'”

—bestiary entry, FFXII

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 10 ounces sliced crimini mushrooms
  • 2 leeks, trimmed, halved, thickly sliced, and rinsed well
  • 6 large garlic cloves, peeled and halved
  • A few sprigs of thyme
  • A pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1 tablespoon red wine
  • Freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
  • Fresh baguette

Heat butter and oil in a large skillet. Add mushrooms, leeks, garlic, thyme, and salt, and saute over medium heat for about 30 minutes, until leeks are very tender. Add capers and red wine and season with black pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes more, until liquid has evaporated. Stir well and serve with warm bread. This recipe pairs beautifully with Basch’s Campfire Steak or Bahamut’s Baseball Steak, but it’s so good you can eat it all by itself.

Dali Pumpkin Ale Stew

Art designs for cups in FFIX“I’ve got better things to do than hang out at the pub.”

—Zidane, FFIX

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8-12 garlic cloves (1 bulb), peeled and halved
  • 2 serrano chile peppers, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • ½ tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 3–4 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 22-ounce bottle of pumpkin ale, such as Coronado Punk’In Drublic
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • About 2 pounds fresh or canned chopped tomatoes and their juices
  • 2 14-oz. cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 14-oz. cans white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 14-oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon turbinado sugar
  • ½ oz. dried chiles guajillos, stems removed (about 2–4 peppers)
  • ¼ oz. dried chiles de arbol, stems removed (about 8–12 peppers)
  • ¾ oz. cilantro, washed and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • Fresh corn tortillas
  • Sour cream
  • Chopped red onion
  • Lime wedges

Heat olive oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add garlic, serrano peppers, chili powder, cumin, coriander, and smoked paprika. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the garlic is turning golden. Add pork and season with salt and pepper. Brown on all sides, about 15 minutes.

Slowly pour in the beer, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan and increasing the heat. Add broth, tomatoes, and beans and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, stir in oregano, sugar, and dried chiles, and cover. Simmer, stirring occasionally, about 3 hours.

Remove from heat and discard chiles. Stir in cilantro and apple cider vinegar. Ladle into bowls and serve with tortillas, sour cream, red onion, and lime wedges.

Makes about 12 heaping 1-cup servings.  Per serving (does not include tortillas and sour cream): 450 calories, 14.3 g. fat, 3.9 g. saturated fat, 1.6 g. poly. fat, 7.6 g. mono. fat, 88.7 mg. cholesterol, 1282.9 mg. sodium (this will be less if you use homemade chicken stock instead of storebought), 651 mg. potassium, 40.5 g. carbohydrates, 13.2 g. fiber, 39.1 g. protein, vitamin A 6%, vitamin C 16%, calcium 16%, iron 31%

Ivalice Eggs

Estersand“The region consisting of the three continents of Valendia, Ordalia, and Kerwon, blessed throughout with verdant natural landscapes and climatic conditions supporting a great variety of life. Regional climate trends are thought to be determined largely by the density of Mist present in the air, though this correlation is as yet not well understood. Many humanoids call Ivalice home, each belonging to a distinct cultural sphere. By far, most prevalent of these are the humes, and it is around the civilization that affairs throughout the rest of the world revolve.”

—FFXII, Sage Knowledge piece 29

  • ½ cup (90 grams) whole-wheat couscous
  • 1½ cups chicken or vegetable broth, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ yellow onion, peeled, quartered lengthwise and sliced thickly crosswise (about 1½ cups)
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 8 ounces fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 eggs
  • Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • 2 ounces crumbled feta cheese (about ¼ cup)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley

Place couscous in a large Tupperware container. Heat ¾ cup (6 ounces) of broth to boiling and pour over the couscous, stirring once to make sure that the liquid is evenly distributed. Cover tightly and set aside for at least 10 minutes.

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven. Add onion and peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, paprika, and cumin, and cook until spices are fragrant, about 2 minutes, lowering heat as necessary to avoid burning the vegetables.

Add chopped tomatoes and the remaining ¾ cup broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes.

Crack eggs one at a time and place over sauce, spacing evenly apart. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook until yolks are just set, about 5 minutes.

Fluff couscous with a fork and divide into two bowls, about 4 ounces of couscous per person. Spoon tomatoes and eggs on top. Sprinkle with feta and parsley and serve.