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.

Festival of the Hunt Roast

ZaghnolBreeder: “This year’s specimen is perfect. Nothing can stop him! Ha ha ha! What power!”

Soldier: “Hey, make him stop! It’s too early to let him loose!”

Breeder: “How? I have no control over him.”

Soldier: “Dammit! Open the gate at once! The gate’s gonna fall apart!”

Breeder: “GO, ZAGHNOL!”

—FFIX

This recipe takes all day (and sometimes into the night), so plan ahead and get all your tools and ingredients together the day before. A good-quality digital thermometer is an absolute necessity, and make sure you have enough wood to keep the fire going for 12 hours! If you don’t have access to a grill, you can also cook the pork in the oven, but you’ll lose that special flavor that comes from the wood smoke.

  • 1 Boston butt (bone-in pork shoulder roast, 4 to 6 pounds)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt per pound of meat
  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seed
  • 1 teaspoon whole fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon whole mustard seed
  • 1 teaspoon whole coriander
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • Barbecue sauce (Mandragora Jam works well)
  • 10 to 12 hamburger buns

Begin 12 to 24 hours before you plan to start cooking. Trim most of the fat, but not all, leaving about 1/8″. Pork butt often comes tied with butcher’s twine to keep them from falling apart. If yours is not already tied, tie it with twine. Wash and thoroughly dry the meat, then salt it and refrigerate overnight.

Prepare a grill or smoker for indirect heat. Place cumin seed, fennel seed, mustard seed, and coriander in a grinder and grind fine. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in chili powder, onion powder, and paprika. Wet the meat all over with water and cover with the rub.

Place the meat fat-side down on the grill and cook at 225 degrees for about 10–12 hours, checking once per hour to make sure fuel is sufficient and smoker temperature is under 250 degrees. For the first couple of hours, you can also add a handful of hickory or cherry wood chips every half-hour or so, if desired.

The meat is done when temperature at the very center reaches at least 195 degrees. Transfer the pork roast to a cutting board, loosely tent it with aluminum foil, and let rest for 15 minutes.

Wearing heavy-duty rubber gloves if desired, pull off and discard any skin from the meat, then pull the pork into pieces, discarding any bones or fat. Using your fingertips or a fork, pull each piece of pork into shreds 1 to 2 inches long and 1/8 to 1/4 inch wide.

Serve on hamburger buns with barbecue sauce on the side for topping. Fried in a little fat, leftovers make great carnitas tacos the next day.

Troia Pub Pasta

Troia Pub“Thanks to the ample supply of water here, we can grow fresh vegetables and even raise chocobos.”

—a man at the Black Chocobo Farm in Troia, FFIV

For a vegan version, omit the anchovies and substitute 1 tablespoon of olive oil. You can also make it gluten-free by using rice pasta.

  • 16 oz. uncooked linguine or other pasta
  • About 2 pounds fresh or canned tomatoes, chopped
  • ¼ cup (60 g.) drained capers
  • 4 ounces pitted olives
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Zest of 1 lemon or 1 slice preserved lemon, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • One 2-ounce can anchovies packed in oil, chopped
  • ½ cup chopped fresh basil
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly-ground black pepper, to taste

Prepare pasta according to package directions. While the water is heating, stir together the tomatoes in a large bowl with the capers, olives, garlic, lemon, crushed red pepper,  and anchovies and their oil, until a chunky sauce forms. Stir in basil, sea salt, and black pepper. Divide the cooked pasta into bowls and top with sauce.

Makes 4 servings. Per serving (includes anchovy oil, about 1/4 tablespoon in each serving): 1,096 calories, 55 g. fat, 129 g. carbohydrates, 22 g. fiber, 30 g. protein, iron 63%

Luca Stadium Chicken and Rice

Tidus and Yuna in Luca Bar, FFX“I hate it when this cafe is so packed. Every place in town is packed during the tournament. It’s a nightmare trying to find a place to eat.”

—a man in Luca, FFX

You’ll need kabob skewers for this recipe. Double-pronged ones like this are useful so the meat doesn’t slip around.

For the chicken marinade:

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns, coarsely ground
  • 2 tablespoons allspice berries, coarsely ground
  • 2 tablespoons whole cloves, coarsely ground
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons grated ginger (about 6 square inches)
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup fresh lime juice
  • ½ cup peanut or grapeseed oil
  • 6 medium green onions, chopped
  • 4 Scotch bonnet or habanero chiles, stemmed and minced
  • 1 bunch of fresh thyme sprigs, divided in half
  • 1½ pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast tenders
  • 1½ pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs

For the rice:

  • 2 tablespoons peanut or grapeseed oil
  • 10½ oz. long-grain brown rice, jasmine or basmati (about 1½ cups)
  • ½ yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Combine marinade ingredients and half the thyme sprigs. Divide into two containers. Set aside one of the containers in the refrigerator (it will be used later as sauce for the cooked chicken). Add the raw chicken to the other container. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.

While the chicken is marinating, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat in a heavy-bottomed soup pot or Dutch oven. Add the rice and saute until it starts to turn golden, about 2 minutes. Add onion, garlic, and salt. Stir and continue cooking for about 10 more minutes, reducing heat as needed and being careful not to let the rice burn.

Pour the coconut milk into a large measuring cup and add water until there are 4 cups of liquid in total. Slowly pour liquid into the rice. Stir in beans and bring to a simmer. Add the other half of the thyme sprigs and continue cooking until all liquid has been absorbed. Lower heat to very low and cover for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside for 15 minutes.

About 1 hour before you’re ready to start cooking the chicken, soak the wooden skewers in water so they won’t burn. Prepare a grill for direct heat, using wood chunks such as pimento or apple if available.

Discard marinade. Thread the chicken onto the skewers. Grill at 350 degrees with the lid closed for about 5 minutes on each side, until beginning to blacken. Transfer to a platter and serve with rice and the other container of sauce for dipping.

Mandragora Jam

Mandragora, FFIX“A vexing Representative of the Deadly Nightshade Family has been sighted nearby Rabanastre!”

—bestiary entry, FFXII

I initially wanted to write this as a vegetarian recipe, but the addition of bacon makes it such a good partner for meat-based dishes like burgers that I couldn’t resist. However, it’s just as good if you leave the bacon out. You can substitute a tablespoon of olive oil instead.

If you decide to include the bacon, save the leftover grease and use it to make Oglop-Oiled Popped Corn.

  • 6 oz. smoked bacon, uncooked (about 4 slices)
  • 1 shallot, peeled and chopped
  • 2 pounds fresh tomatoes, washed well, stems removed, and chopped (about 3 cups)
  • 1 serrano chile pepper, minced
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablepoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon ras el hanout
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Arrange the bacon on a baking sheet and place in an unheated oven. Turn the heat to 425 and cook until crisp, about 20–25 minutes, turning once halfway through the cooking time. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to cool.

Heat a Dutch oven or large deep-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Drain the bacon grease from the baking sheet into a sturdy container. Remove 1 tablespoon and add to the skillet. Save the rest in the fridge for later use (optional).

Add the chopped shallots to the skillet. Cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until they begin to brown. Add the chopped tomatoes, chile pepper, vinegar, honey, brown sugar, salt, ras el hanout, and few grinds of black pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently until the sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium-low and crumble in the bacon.

Simmer for about 1 hour, uncovered, until the consistency is as thick as you like it. (The jam will thicken more in the fridge.) Remove from heat and let the jam cool, then pour into freezer-safe containers and freeze for up to 4 months. It will keep in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Makes about 20 ounces of jam. Per 2-tablespoon serving: 78 calories, 4 g. fat, 7 g. carbohydrates, 1 g. fiber, 3 g. protein, iron 2%