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%

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.

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.

Queen Brahne’s Fried Chicken and Biscuits

Alexandria Castle“The queen’s favorite dish is deep-fried bat.”

—Ovenmeister, FFIX

When you’re done with this recipe, you’ll have a cup of leftover buttermilk. Use it to make South Gate Bundt Cake.

For marinating the chicken:

  • 3½–4 lbs. chicken pieces, such as breasts, drumsticks, etc.
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons hot pepper sauce, such as Cholula or Tapatio
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

For the biscuits:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for work surface
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 oz. (8 tablespoons) European-style unsalted butter, such as Kerrygold
  • 1 cup buttermilk

For dredging the chicken:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder

For frying the chicken:

  • 1 17-oz. bottle of grapeseed oil

In a shallow baking dish or large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, hot sauce, and salt. Add the chicken pieces and turn to coat well. Cover and refrigerate 2–4 hours or overnight.

Next, prepare the biscuits. Before you get started, chill the mixing bowl and a sharp knife in the fridge, and don’t get out the butter and buttermilk until you’re ready to use them. The main thing to remember with biscuits is that the butter needs to stay cold until it goes in the oven — it’s the melting butter and its rising steam while baking that gives the biscuits their delicious flakiness. You’ll want to work fast for two reasons: so the butter doesn’t melt, and so you don’t overwork the dough and make it tough. If the butter starts melting or you need to stop to take care of something else, you can always stick the dough in the fridge for a while.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in the chilled mixing bowl. Put the butter on a cutting board and toss some flour over it to keep it from sticking to your knife. Slice a thin piece of butter and use your fingers to break it into few pieces. Add to the mixing bowl and repeat until the butter is all sliced and added to the bowl. Return the bowl and the knife to the fridge for a few minutes while you prepare your work surface with a light coating of flour.

Remove bowl from the refrigerator and slowly pour in buttermilk. Mix until combined. It won’t look like dough yet, but lots of little pieces; that’s okay. Turn the dough out onto your work surface. With floured hands, gently form into a large ball and press into a rectangle. Fold the rectangle into thirds like you’re folding a letter, then fold in half. You should now have a stacked square. Press down into a rectangle about ½” thick. Use the chilled knife to cut into 8 square biscuits. Place the biscuits about 1″ apart on the baking sheet. Transfer to the fridge.

When you’re ready to start frying the chicken, whisk together the flour, salt, paprika, sage, and baking powder in a large bowl. Remove the chicken from the marinade, letting excess liquid drip off before transferring to the bowl. Turn chicken pieces until completely covered with flour.

Pour the bottle of oil into a Dutch oven or large deep-bottomed skillet. Heat the oil over medium heat. It’s ready for frying when the oil ripples slowly across the bottom of the skillet and a cube of bread sizzles gently and begins to color within about 10 to 15 seconds of being added to the oil. Place each piece of chicken in the oil. Keep in mind that you want them to fry slowly, about 30 minutes on each side, so keep your ears open to the sounds from the skillet. The chicken should fry gently, not sizzle furiously.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Bake biscuits for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from baking sheet and transfer to a serving plate.

When the chicken starts looking like it might be done, check with a meat thermometer to ensure that it’s around 180 degrees. (The drumsticks will probably be done before the breasts.) Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt and serve with the biscuits.

Dead Pepper Hot Sauce

Zidane Tribal  in Chocobo's Forest“The Dead Pepper has been our favorite food for 5,000 years…”

—Gold Choco, FFIX

This is a thick, richly flavored hot sauce that’s great on eggs or burritos. It’s also a fantastic sauce when you’re grilling chicken — brush it over the chicken about 10 minutes before taking it off the grill.

  • 1 20-oz. mason jar
  • 2 medium tomatoes (about 8 oz.), washed well and stems removed
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
  • ½ white onion, peeled and sliced thickly
  • ½ oz. dried chiles guajillos, stems removed (about 2–4 peppers)
  • ¼ oz. dried chiles de arbol, stems removed (about 8–12 peppers)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • ½ teaspoon turbinado sugar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup water

Put a heavy frying pan over medium heat and toast the tomatoes, garlic cloves, and onion until they char slightly, about 10 minutes. When they’re almost done cooking, open the windows in your kitchen. If your stove has an exhaust fan, turn it on.

Push the vegetables to one side and add chiles, stirring frequently so they don’t burn. Cook for 1 or 2 more minutes, until they char slightly. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.

Transfer the contents of the frying pan to a blender. Add salt, oregano, sugar, olive oil, vinegar, and water. Let the mixture soak for about 15 minutes, until chiles have softened. Blend well, then taste sauce. If it’s flat or bitter, add another teaspoon or so of salt and blend.

Pour the hot sauce into a mason jar or other container that can be tightly sealed. Refrigerate for at least 1 day before serving. The sauce will last about a month in the fridge.