Ivalice Stewed Chicken with Olives

Ivalice“Food would be a start—the good stuff, mind you.”

—Balthier, FFXII

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ yellow onion, peeled, quartered lengthwise and sliced thickly crosswise (about 1½ cups)
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
  • One 2-ounce can anchovies, drained and chopped
  • 1½ lbs. skinless boneless chicken thighs, uncooked
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ras el hanout
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 cups beef broth, divided
  • 8 ounces fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup (180 grams) whole-wheat couscous
  • 1 12-ounce jar pitted Kalamata olives, drained
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven or large, deep oven-safe skillet with lid.  Add onion and garlic and sauté for 10 minutes, stirring frequently and reducing heat as needed to prevent burning. Add anchovies and spices and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Push anchovies and vegetables to the side and add chicken. Sprinkle with flour and season with salt and pepper. Brown on all sides, about 15 minutes.

Slowly pour in the wine, scraping the bottom of the pan. When the wine is at a simmer, slowly pour in ½ cup broth. Add tomatoes and their juices. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and cover. Simmer for about 30 minutes, until chicken is very tender.

Uncover and stir in olives. Cook for 15 or so minutes until sauce is slightly thickened.

Meanwhile, place couscous in a large Tupperware container. Heat 1½ cups 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.

Fluff couscous with a fork and divide into 4 bowls, about 4 ounces of couscous per person. Divide stew into each bowl, sprinkle with parsley, and serve.

Rikku’s Mix

Rikku's Mix Overdrive“A little bit of this, a little bit of that…”

—Rikku, FFX-2

Do you have half-empty bags of egg noodles, brown rice, and elbow macaroni in your cupboard that never seem to get used up? Frozen hashbrowns that are heading towards freezer burn? Random cans of salmon, sardines, or tuna that just get pushed to the back? Use this recipe as a blueprint for fusing your stockable items to create something more delicious. You can include any cheeses you like, but if you’re having trouble deciding, a high-quality white cheddar is especially good. Grate it yourself instead of buying the pre-shredded kind, which is coated with additives to prevent clumping.

  • 12 ounces of dried pasta or rice, or 20 ounces frozen cooked potatoes, thawed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion or two small onions, peeled, quartered lengthwise and sliced thickly crosswise
  • 2 leeks, trimmed, halved, thickly sliced, and rinsed well
  • Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 2½ cups (20 ounces) chicken broth
  • 1¼ cup (10 ounces) half-and-half
  • 6 ounces cheese, grated
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce (such as Crystal)
  • 2 6-ounce cans of fish (such as salmon, tuna, or sardines), drained
  • 8 oz. frozen peas or other vegetables (about 1½ cups), thawed
  • 2 ounces panko, crushed potato  chips, or parsnip chips
  • 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (about ¼ cup)
  • A dash of smoked paprika
  • 1 lemon, washed well
  • Fresh dill
  • Fresh chives

Prepare the pasta  or rice according to package directions but slightly undercooking it by a few minutes.

In a large oven-safe skillet or Dutch oven, melt the butter and olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and leeks and cook, stirring occasionally and seasoning with salt and pepper, until soft and golden, about 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Slowly pour in wine and continue cooking, scraping the bottom of the pan, until pan is almost dry, about 2 minutes.

Add flour and stir until onion and leeks are coated. Stir in broth and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium and stir in half-and-half. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until mixture is bubbling. Stir in cheese and hot sauce, then add fish and peas. Break the fish up with a spatula, add pasta, and stir until combined.

Turn off heat and sprinkle evenly with panko or chips, Parmesan cheese, and paprika. Bake uncovered until bubbly around the edges, about 15–20 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes, then zest one-quarter of the lemon over the top. Use scissors to trim fresh dill and chives over the top. Ladle into bowls and serve immediately. Makes 8 servings.

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%

Costa Del Sol Sashimi Cocktail

Costa del Sol bar“Welcome to Bar del Sol! Here’s to tropical nights!”

—the barkeeper in Costa del Sol, FFVII

This is one of those recipes where it’s vital that everything be very fresh, especially the fish. Make the recipe as soon as you get back from the market. Goes great with Costa del Sol Guacamole!

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon finely diced red onion
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh tomato (about ½ small tomato)
  • ½ serrano chile pepper, minced
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon hot pepper sauce (Cholula or Tapatio are recommended)
  • ½ lb. sushi-grade fish, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • Tortilla chips

In a small casserole dish, combine the lemon juice, lime juice, cilantro, onion, tomatoes, chile pepper, salt, and hot sauce. Stir in the fish, cover, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Divide into two martini glasses, garnish each with a cilantro sprig, and eat immediately with tortilla chips and chopsticks.

Celes’ Yummy Fish

Celes Chere on Solitary IslandCeles: “What would you like?”

Cid: “Well, unless I ask for fish, I won’t get anything! That’s all there is here!”

Celes: “I’ll go catch some.”

—FFVI

  • 4 garlic cloves
  • About 3 square inches of fresh ginger root
  • 2 green onions, chopped, green part only
  • 1 serrano chile pepper, minced
  • 1 medium zucchini, washed and sliced thinly
  • ¾ oz. cilantro, washed and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dark-roasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon dark 100% maple syrup
  • 4 4-oz. pieces of arctic char, wild Pacific halibut, tilapia, or similar fish that is sustainable for your region
  • 4 large squares of parchment paper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Peel the garlic and ginger and grate into a small bowl. Stir in onions, serrano pepper, zucchini, and cilantro. Add soy sauce, sesame oil, and maple syrup, and toss well to combine.

Place a piece of fish on each square of parchment paper and divide the topping evenly between them, spreading it over the top. Fold the paper over to form a packet around each fillet and seal the edge of each packet, crimping tightly.

Arrange the packets on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving. Unseal and serve.

Junon Fish Stew

Junon“Ever since… Shinra built that city up above during the war, …ugh, ugh. There’s been no fish in the water!”

—FFVII

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion or 2 small onions, peeled and diced (about 1½ cups)
  • 3 large carrots or 6 medium carrots, scrubbed and chopped (about 1½ cups)
  • 1 cup chopped celery stalks (about 4 stalks)
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 head of garlic (about 8-12 cloves), peeled and halved
  • About ½ bottle of white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc (1½ cups)
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 14-oz. cans of diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 16 oz. skinless boneless white fish, such as cod, cut into large pieces
  • 16 oz. shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 16-oz. bag of frozen mixed seafood (shrimp, scallops, and calamari rings)
  • ¼ cup chopped Italian parsley
  • Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons to ¼ cup)
  • Sourdough baguette (optional)

Remove the seafood from the freezer to thaw. Heat butter and oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook for 10 minutes, covered. Stir frequently and reduce heat if the onions are browning too quickly. Add carrots, celery, red pepper flakes, and garlic, and cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Add wine, broth, tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and salt.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and cover. Simmer for 30 minutes.

Add fish and return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, uncovered. Stir in shrimp and mixed seafood and continue simmering for an additional 5 minutes, until shrimp is opaque and fish flakes easily.

Remove from heat and stir in parsley and lemon juice. Serve with warm sourdough bread for soaking up the broth.

Makes about 9 heaping 1-cup servings. Per serving: 226 calories, 6.9 g. fat, 2 g. saturated fat, 0.5 g. poly. fat, 2.8 g. mono. fat, 165.1 mg. cholesterol, 699.6 mg. sodium (this will be less if you use homemade broth instead of storebought), 169.3 mg. potassium, 12.5 g. carbohydrates, 2.5 g. fiber, 27.1 g. protein, vitamin A 37%, vitamin C 27%, calcium 8%, iron 11%

Costa Del Sol Fish Tacos

Costa del Sol beach“If you want a good time, come to the beach! There are lots of beautiful women. You wouldn’t happen to be… rich?”

—FFVII

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ tablespoon ancho chile powder
  • ½ tablespoon dried oregano
  • ½ tablespoon ground cumin
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped
  • 1 lb. mahi-mahi or other firm whitefish
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (about ½ a lime)
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • Chopped green cabbage
  • Fresh salsa or pico de gallo
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges

Pour olive oil into a casserole dish and whisk in spices, cilantro, and jalapeno. Add fish and turn to coat on all sides. Marinate in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes, up to an hour.

Prepare a grill to high heat. Meanwhile, whisk together mayonnaise and lime juice in a small bowl and set aside in the refrigerator.

Grill the fish for about 4 minutes on one side, 2 minutes on the other side, covered throughout, until it flakes easily. Wrap in foil and set aside. Grill the tortillas on both sides until warm. Place a piece of fish into each tortilla and drizzle with 1 teaspoon of lime-mayonnaise sauce.

Serve tacos with cabbage and salsa and squeeze a lime wedge on top before eating. Makes 8 tacos.