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. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake for about 90 minutes.

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.

Reduce heat to 300 degrees. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Turn the pork pieces and bake for 30 more minutes, until internal temperature reaches about 200 degrees.

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.

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.

Cosmo Canyon Chicken and Rice

Cosmo Candle“Bonfires are funny, aren’t they? They make you remember all sorts of things.”

—Tifa Lockhart, FFVII

For the chicken:

  • ¼ cup lime juice (about 1 or 2 limes)
  • ¼ cup organic tamari soy sauce
  • ½ tablespoon hot chili powder
  • ½ tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely minced or pressed
  • 4 skinless, boneless organic free-range chicken breasts
  • ¼ cup white wine

For the rice:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 10½ oz. long-grain brown rice, jasmine or basmati (about 1½ cups)
  • 8 oz. raw tomatoes, washed and chopped
  • 1 carrot, scrubbed and chopped (about ½ cup)
  • ¼ yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 4 cups chicken broth

Mix together lime juice, soy sauce, cumin, coriander, chili powder, olive oil, honey, and garlic in a shallow baking pan, stirring thoroughly. Lay the chicken breasts in, breast-side up, then flip to breast-side down. Cover and refrigerate for an hour, turning the breasts over halfway through.

While the chicken is marinating, heat the butter and 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 tomatoes, carrot, onion, garlic, and salt. Stir and continue cooking for about 10 more minutes, until onions are translucent.

Slowly pour in broth, bringing to a simmer. Continue cooking until all the broth has been absorbed. Lower heat to very low and cover for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside for 15 minutes.

While the rice is cooking, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Turn the chicken breasts to breast-side down and pour the white wine over them. Bake for 20-30 minutes, flipping the breasts after about 10 or 15 minutes. Check that the internal temperature has reached at least 160 degrees.

Arrange 4 plates. Put a half-cup scoop of rice on each plate and pat it down to make a nest for the chicken. (You’ll have rice left over; save it to serve at another meal with Ifrit’s Adobo-Achiote Chicken.) Place each breast on a plate and top with the pan juices. Serves 4.

Costa Del Sol Guacamole

Hojo on Costa Del Sol beach“Wait a minute. I’m going to look for my guidebook. It says, Costa del Sol is the gateway to the West. And has a prominent world renown resort, which has been around for ages.”

—a tourist in Costa del Sol, FFVII

When you’re done with this recipe, you’ll be left with half a tomato, half a chile pepper, and lots of onion and cilantro. Use them to make Costa Del Sol Sashimi Cocktail!

  • 4 ripe avocados
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh tomato (about ½ small tomato)
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced red onion
  • ½ serrano chile pepper, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Tortilla chips

Cut the avocados in half, remove the pits, and scoop the insides into a large bowl. Add tomato, onion, chile pepper, cilantro, garlic, salt, and lime juice. Mash until combined and stir in black pepper. Serve with warm tortilla chips.

Vincent’s Red Juice

Vincent Valentine in Nibelheim“Cool? Hmmm… I guess that’s just how I am, sorry.”

—Vincent Valentine, FFVII

He wants you to know that the stuff you hear about garlic is total fiction.

  • 1 lb. organic Roma tomatoes
  • 6 oz. organic spinach
  • 10 oz. organic kale
  • 1 organic beet (root and leaves), scrubbed well
  • 3 raw garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 lb. organic carrots (about 6 carrots)
  • 5 oz. organic celery (about 2 to 4 stalks)
  • 1 fresh lime, quartered
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt

Start your multispeed juicer on setting 1 and add tomatoes. Increase speed to setting 3 and add spinach. Increase speed to setting 4 and add kale. Increase speed to setting 5 and add beet root, beet leaves, garlic cloves, carrots, and celery.

Remove pitcher from the juicer. Squeeze the lime quarters into the pitcher and and stir in salt. Juice can be stored overnight in the refrigerator if necessary, but is best when served immediately.

Makes about 24 to 32 ounces of juice, depending on the size of the beet: 570 calories, 5.3 g. fat, 0.8 g. saturated fat, 2.4 g. poly. fat, 0.5 g. mono. fat, 1427.2 mg. sodium, 5767.9 mg. potassium, 123.1 g. carbohydrates, 27 g. protein, vitamin A 1003%, vitamin C 666%, calcium 85%, iron 77%

Total cost for all ingredients is about $9 at Trader Joe’s.

SOLDIER Smoothie

Cloud at the Wall Market bar“For better or for worse, only the strong can enter SOLDIER.”

—Cloud Strife, FFVII

Put the greens, coconut water, and lime juice in a blender and pulse until combined. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth. Perfect post-workout drink! If you want more protein, try adding a couple tablespoons of hemp protein powder.

Makes 1 serving. Per serving: 288 calories, 4.2 g. omega-3s, 14 g. fat, 37 g. carbohydrates, 11 g. fiber, 8 g. protein

Meteor

Cloud and Aeris in the Temple of the Ancients“Here now. The way you’re running around here, you’d think Meteor fell or something.”

—the doctor in Mideel, FFVII

If you have a juicer, try using Vincent’s Red Juice instead of the bloody mary mixer.

  • 32-oz. bottle of Trader Joe’s bloody mary mixer (mostly tomato juice; includes clam juice, onion powder, and garlic powder)
  • 1 lime, cut into 4 wedges
  • Worcestershire sauce (regular or vegan)
  • Louisiana hot sauce, such as Crystal
  • Sea salt
  • Prepared horseradish
  • Freshly-ground black pepper
  • 2 celery stalks, washed
  • Vodka (optional)
  • Pickled vegetables (optional)

Divide the bottle between two large glasses. Squeeze a lime wedge into each glass. Use the remaining 2 lime wedges to decorate the glasses. Add 1 dash of Worcestershire sauce and 4 dashes of hot sauce to each glass.

Add ¼ teaspoon sea salt and ¼ teaspoon prepared horseradish to each glass. Add a grind of black pepper and use the celery sticks to stir well.

Stir in vodka to taste, if desired. Garnish with pickled vegetables and serve.