Takka’s After-Hours Chili

takka“Y’all wanna fetch some edibles for me?”

—Takka, FFXV

This one isn’t listed on the menu at Takka’s Pit Stop, probably because one of the main ingredients is whiskey. But if you can get on Takka’s good side, he might offer you a bowl after hours.

Make sure you buy Spanish chorizo, not Mexican chorizo (they’re quite different). If you can’t find Spanish chorizo, you can substitute another cured and smoked sausage like salami. The spicier the better!

Finally, when you’re done cutting up the pork shoulder, save the bone in your freezer for stock. I usually have a big bag with vegetable ends, chicken bones, and other assortments. When it gets full, I dump it into a pot, add water, and simmer low for a few hours. Homemade stock is one of the best things you can do to improve your cooking, and it’s easy.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 to 4 pound pork shoulder, bone removed and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 6 to 8 ounces raw bacon (half a package), cut into ½” strips
  • 1 large onion or two small onions, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4 14-oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 14-oz. cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 canned chipotle chiles, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  •  4 cups chicken broth
  • 200 ml whiskey such as Jim Beam, divided
  • 4 ounces Spanish chorizo, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1 bunch cilantro, washed and chopped
  • Sour cream
  • Chives

Heat olive oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add pork and season with salt and pepper. Brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and beginning to crisp, about 10 minutes. Add onions and celery and cook for an additional 10 minutes.

Stir in beans, chipotles, cumin, broth, and ½ cup whiskey and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer, stirring occasionally, about 2 hours, until pork is tender.

Stir in chorizo and remaining ¼ cup whiskey. Simmer, uncovered, until flavors are blended, about 10 minutes more. Stir in cilantro. Ladle into bowls and serve with sour cream and chives. Makes about 9 servings.

 

Takka’s Garula Stew

ignis-pot-simmer

“Everything looks damn tasty.”

—Gladiolus Amicitia, FFXV

If you can’t find garula, try substituting beef chuck.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 to 4 pounds garula, excess fat removed and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 6 to 8 ounces raw bacon (half a package), cut into ½” strips
  • 1 large onion or two small onions, peeled, quartered lengthwise and sliced thickly crosswise (about 2 cups)
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced diagonally into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 canned chipotle chiles, chopped
  • Crumbled blue cheese
  • Chives

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat olive oil in a large oven-safe soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add beef in a single layer. Sprinkle with flour and season with paprika, salt, and pepper. Brown on all sides, about 15 minutes.

Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and beginning to crisp, about 10 minutes. Add onions and cook for an additional 10 minutes.

Slowly pour in the wine, scraping the bottom of the pan. When the wine is at a simmer, slowly pour in broth. Bring to a boil and add potatoes, carrots, and chipotles. Return to a boil, remove from heat, and cover. Bake for about 1½ hours, until meat and vegetables are tender.

Ladle into bowls and serve with blue cheese and chives. Makes about 7 servings.

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%

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%

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
  • ½ teaspoon peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 lbs. drained raw sauerkraut (2 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%

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.