Treno Corn Pudding

Treno slums“Power to the people! We’ll never go hungry once we become nobles!”

—girl in the Treno slums, FFIX

  • 2½ cups water
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup (70 g.) dry white corn grits
  • ¼ cup (1 oz.) grated sharp cheddar cheese or Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon half & half
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 teaspoons (10 g.) olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning (a blend of dried basil, oregano, and other spices)

Bring water and salt to a boil in a large deep pan over high heat. Slowly stir in grits and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently and reducing heat as needed to prevent sticking, until mixture is thick and bubbling. Remove from heat and stir in cheese, half & half, and butter until melted. Divide between two bowls. Drizzle each bowl with 1 teaspoon olive oil and sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon crushed Italian seasoning.

Makes 2 servings. Per serving: 278 calories, 17 g. fat, 28 g. carbohydrates, 2 g. fiber, 6 g. protein, iron 2%

Cockatrice Pie

Terra at the Returner hideout“Food! Food! Bring me everything ya got!”

—Sabin Rene Figaro, FFVI

This savory treat goes great with Narshe Spiced Wine or a tankard of strong ale on a cold winter night.

  • 1 16-oz. package of frozen puff pastry dough (2 sheets)
  • 2 cups prepared stuffing
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped cooked cockatrice or turkey
  • ½ cup turkey gravy
  • Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup mashed potatoes
  • ½ cup cranberry sauce

Defrost both sheets of dough at room temperature for 2 hours, or overnight in the refrigerator. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Unroll each sheet of dough and use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to cut each sheet into 4 squares.

You should now have 8 squares of dough. In the center of each square, place ¼ cup stuffing. Stir together the turkey and gravy and place ¼ cup on top of each pile of stuffing. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add 2 tablespoons of mashed potatoes to each square, and top with 1 tablespoon cranberry sauce.

Start with the first square and fold each corner to the center of the pile, pressing the corners together until you have a messy bundle. Gently lift the bundle off the paper and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining 7 squares.

Bake for about 25 minutes, until bubbling and golden-brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before serving. Makes 8 pies.

Echo Herb Stuffing

Locke Cole in Thamasa“An herbal medicine used with minimal preparation. The leaves are ground up and swallowed to cure throat ailments.”

—description in Bravely Default

A natural companion to Echo Herb Chicken, this dish is also an excellent accompaniment to Roast Cockatrice. Use any leftovers to make Cockatrice Pie.

  • 1 pound sourdough bread
  • 1 pound hot Italian pork sausage
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion or two small onions, peeled and diced (about 1½ cups)
  • 4 medium carrots, chopped (about 1½ cups)
  • 4 celery stalks, diced (about 1 cup)
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ cup chopped Italian parsley
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1½ cups chicken broth
  • ½ cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten

The day before you want to serve the stuffing, cut the bread into ½-inch cubes. Spread the cubes out on a baking sheet and leave them uncovered on the counter or in the oven to dry overnight.

Remove the casings from the sausage and chop into ½-inch pieces. Heat olive oil in a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven and add sausage, onion, carrots, celery, and sea salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sausage is browned and onions are golden, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Transfer the bread cubes to a large bowl and add the sausage mixture from the skillet. Toss with parsley, sage, thyme, rosemary, and pepper. Add broth and toss until liquid is absorbed. Stir in the eggs.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Coat a 9×13″ ceramic baking dish with cooking spray. Spread the stuffing in the dish, cover tightly with foil, and bake until heated through, about 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the top is lightly browned and crisp, another 20 to 30 minutes. Serve hot.

Roast Cockatrice

XII cockatrice“Lo, the mighty cockatrice, proud-feathered sphere, known as much for its ill humor as its dire rotundity. The great naturalist Merlose once remarked: ‘…live they in the sands and other arid climes, whereabouts they moveth in a rolling fashion most peculiar.'”

—bestiary entry, FFXII

  • 3 tablespoons coarse kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon dried sage, crushed
  • 1 12- to 16-pound cockatrice (you can substitute a turkey if necessary)
  • 2 large lemons
  • 8 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • ¾ oz. fresh thyme sprigs
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • About ½ bottle of white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc (1½ cups)
  • ¾ oz. fresh sage, stems removed, chopped finely
  • Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 2 cups chicken broth

Rub salt and dried sage together in a small bowl. Rinse the cockatrice inside and out with cold water, removing neck and giblets, if any. Drain, cavity down, before placing breast-side up on a rack in a large roasting pan. Pat dry with paper towels and sprinkle all over with about half the sage salt. Flip to breast-side down and sprinkle with the remaining sage salt. Refrigerate overnight, uncovered.

Set oven rack at lowest position and preheat oven to 450 degrees. Drain off and discard any liquid from the roasting pan. Slice the lemons in half. Stuff the lemon halves, rosemary sprigs, and thyme sprigs inside the cavity.

Put the pan in the oven and begin roasting, uncovered. Meanwhile, mix together the olive oil, butter, wine, and sage. After the cockatrice has roasted for about 30 minutes, remove from oven and baste all over with olive oil mixture. Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper and return to oven, making sure to turn the pan so the cockatrice cooks and browns evenly.

After another 30 minutes, remove from oven, turn breast-side up, and baste all over with olive oil mixture. Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper and return to oven, again turning the pan.

Check on the cockatrice after another 30 minutes have passed, baste with the remaining olive oil mixture, and turn the pan. The breast should be beginning to brown; if not, continue roasting for another 15 minutes or so.

Reduce heat to 325 degrees and continue roasting. Every 30 minutes, baste with juices and and turn the pan. After the cockatrice has been cooking for a total of three hours, check the temperature with an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast. The bird is ready when the thermometer reads 160 to 165 degrees.

Transfer to a platter or carving board and let rest 30 minutes to 1 hour. Pour the pan juices into a clear measuring cup and refrigerate.

Meanwhile, place the roasting pan on the stove over medium-high heat. Add apple cider. Scrape the pan until the cider boils and all the crisp bits are unstuck from the pan. Add chicken broth, stir well, and bring back to a boil. Cook until liquid has reduced by half, about 10 minutes.

Spoon off as much of the fat as possible from the measuring cup of juices. Add the juices to the pan and continue cooking, about 10 minutes more. Strain into a warm gravy boat and serve with the roast cockatrice and Echo Herb Stuffing, if desired. Save the carcass for Cockatrice Soup, and use any leftover meat to make Cockatrice Pie.

Quan’s Chicken Soup with Rice

Vivi in Treno“Vivi! I learn art of fulfillment without eating food!”

—Quan, FFIX

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 4 parsnips, scrubbed and chopped (about 3 cups)
  • 1 turnip, scrubbed and diced (about 1½ cups)
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • 8 cups homemade chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup uncooked wild rice or long-grain brown rice (about 200 g.)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 or 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 6 oz. baby bok choy, chopped
  • 12 oz. zucchini, chopped (about 3 small/medium zucchinis)
  • 10 ounces chopped kale
  • ¾ oz. Italian parsley, chopped
  • ¾ oz. fresh dill, chopped
  • ¼ cup unfiltered apple cider vinegar

Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat.  Add parsnips and turnip and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally and reducing heat if the vegetables are browning too quickly.

Add the chicken pieces to the soup pot and sprinkle with salt. Brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Add rice, broth, bay leaves, and thyme, and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook about 35 minutes, until rice is tender and chicken is cooked through. Discard bay leaves and thyme sprigs and stir in bok choy, zucchini, and kale. Remove from heat and stir in parsley, dill, and vinegar before serving.

Makes about 8 heaping 1-cup servings.  Per serving: 346 calories, 10.7 g. fat, 1.8 g. saturated fat, 1.5 g. poly. fat, 5.9 g. mono. fat, 64.1 mg. cholesterol, 361.2 mg. sodium, 753.2 mg. potassium, 34.6 g. carbohydrates, 5.8 g. fiber, 28.2 g. protein, vitamin A 47%, vitamin C 97%, calcium 11%, iron 13%

Quan’s Salmon and Pasta

Quan“To eat everything not true way of gourmand!”

—Quan, FFIX

With winter holidays on the way, now’s a great time to let your body relax and recharge with simple meals and high-quality ingredients.

  • 8 oz. uncooked brown rice pasta
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
  • 2 skin-on wild Pacific salmon fillets, about 8 oz. each
  • Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
  • Chopped dill or other fresh herb

Cook pasta as per package directions. Drain and divide into two bowls. Drizzle each bowl with a tablespoon of olive oil.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add salmon fillets skin side-down and sprinkle with sea salt. Cook until skin is rendered and crisp, about 5 minutes. If skin shows resistance when attempting to lift with a spatula, allow it to continue to cook a little longer until it lifts easily.

Flip salmon, sprinkle skin with salt, and cook on second side until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 120°F for medium rare or 130°F for medium, about 1 minute longer.

Place a salmon fillet in each bowl on top of the pasta, skin-side up, and garnish with fresh herbs. Instead of the traditional white wine, serve with a splash of blueberry or cranberry juice in a goblet, topped off with sparkling mineral water.

Makes 2 servings. Per serving: 1,028 calories, 50 g. fat, 86 g. carbohydrates, 4 g. fiber, 58 g. protein, iron 15%

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.