Seasoned Midgardsormr

Seasoned Midgardsormr“You can never have too many spices.”

—Ignis Scientia, FFXV

You’ll need wooden skewers for this recipe. Make sure to soak them in water for at least 30 minutes before grilling.

  • ½ tablespoon coriander seeds
  • ½ tablespoon cumin seeds
  • ½ tablespoon cardamom seeds
  • ½ tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seed
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seed
  • ½ teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • ½ tablespoon turmeric
  • ½ tablespoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 28-ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes
  • 6 large garlic cloves, peeled and halved
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger (about 3 square inches)
  • 7 ounces plain Greek yogurt, such as Fage
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (about 1 large or 2 small lemons)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1½” cubes
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Sesame seeds
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Cooked basmati rice

Combine the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cardamom seeds, peppercorns, fennel seed, mustard seed, and cloves in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Toast until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Grind the toasted spices in a clean coffee or spice mill and transfer to a medium bowl. Stir in paprika, turmeric, nutmeg, and cayenne.

Pour the tomatoes and their juices into a food processor or blender and add garlic, ginger, and the bowl of spices. Blend until smooth.

In the bowl, whisk together yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and ¼ cup of the tomato mixture. Place chicken in a large resealable plastic bag. Pour in marinade and seal bag, removing as much air as possible. Place in refrigerator and marinate for 4 to 8 hours. Transfer the tomato mixture to a storage container and refrigerate.

Thread chicken tightly onto skewers. Heat the tomato mixture in a saucepan over medium heat. When it’s bubbling, stir in cream and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 6 to 8 minutes.

Grill over medium-high direct heat for 3 to 4 minutes per side until well browned on all sides. Transfer skewers to a platter and let rest for 5 minutes.

In the center of each plate, place a large serving of sauce. Arrange skewers on top and garnish to taste with sesame seeds and cilantro. Serve with basmati rice.

Lucis Tavern Skewers

kingsglaive“Tastes like a chocobo turd.”

—Libertus Ostium, Kingsglaive

You’ll need wooden skewers for this recipe. Make sure to soak them in water for at least 30 minutes before grilling.

  • 2 cups mirin
  • 2 cups soy sauce
  • 1 cup dry sake
  • 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 large garlic cloves, peeled and halved
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger (about 3 square inches)
  • 16 large scallions, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1½” cubes

Mix mirin, soy sauce, sake, sugar, pepper, garlic, ginger, green parts of the scallions, and 1 cup water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until liquid is reduced by half, about 1½ hours.

Thread white parts of the scallions, cherry tomatoes, and chicken tightly onto skewers. Grill over medium-high direct heat for 3 to 4 minutes per side until well browned on all sides, brushing with sauce every 30 seconds until a glaze forms. Transfer skewers to platter, drizzle with remaining sauce, and serve immediately, preferably with a cold beer.

Festival of the Hunt Roast

ZaghnolBreeder: “This year’s specimen is perfect. Nothing can stop him! Ha ha ha! What power!”

Soldier: “Hey, make him stop! It’s too early to let him loose!”

Breeder: “How? I have no control over him.”

Soldier: “Dammit! Open the gate at once! The gate’s gonna fall apart!”

Breeder: “GO, ZAGHNOL!”

—FFIX

This recipe takes all day (and sometimes into the night), so plan ahead and get all your tools and ingredients together the day before. A good-quality digital thermometer is an absolute necessity, and make sure you have enough wood to keep the fire going for 12 hours! If you don’t have access to a grill, you can also cook the pork in the oven, but you’ll lose that special flavor that comes from the wood smoke.

  • 1 Boston butt (bone-in pork shoulder roast, 4 to 6 pounds)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt per pound of meat
  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seed
  • 1 teaspoon whole fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon whole mustard seed
  • 1 teaspoon whole coriander
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • Barbecue sauce (Mandragora Jam works well)
  • 10 to 12 hamburger buns

Begin 12 to 24 hours before you plan to start cooking. Trim most of the fat, but not all, leaving about 1/8″. Pork butt often comes tied with butcher’s twine to keep them from falling apart. If yours is not already tied, tie it with twine. Wash and thoroughly dry the meat, then salt it and refrigerate overnight.

Prepare a grill or smoker for indirect heat. Place cumin seed, fennel seed, mustard seed, and coriander in a grinder and grind fine. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in chili powder, onion powder, and paprika. Wet the meat all over with water and cover with the rub.

Place the meat fat-side down on the grill and cook at 225 degrees for about 10–12 hours, checking once per hour to make sure fuel is sufficient and smoker temperature is under 250 degrees. For the first couple of hours, you can also add a handful of hickory or cherry wood chips every half-hour or so, if desired.

The meat is done when temperature at the very center reaches at least 195 degrees. Transfer the pork roast to a cutting board, loosely tent it with aluminum foil, and let rest for 15 minutes.

Wearing heavy-duty rubber gloves if desired, pull off and discard any skin from the meat, then pull the pork into pieces, discarding any bones or fat. Using your fingertips or a fork, pull each piece of pork into shreds 1 to 2 inches long and 1/8 to 1/4 inch wide.

Serve on hamburger buns with barbecue sauce on the side for topping. Fried in a little fat, leftovers make great carnitas tacos the next day.

Luca Stadium Chicken and Rice

Tidus and Yuna in Luca Bar, FFX“I hate it when this cafe is so packed. Every place in town is packed during the tournament. It’s a nightmare trying to find a place to eat.”

—a man in Luca, FFX

You’ll need kabob skewers for this recipe. Double-pronged ones like this are useful so the meat doesn’t slip around.

For the chicken marinade:

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns, coarsely ground
  • 2 tablespoons allspice berries, coarsely ground
  • 2 tablespoons whole cloves, coarsely ground
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons grated ginger (about 6 square inches)
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup fresh lime juice
  • ½ cup peanut or grapeseed oil
  • 6 medium green onions, chopped
  • 4 Scotch bonnet or habanero chiles, stemmed and minced
  • 1 bunch of fresh thyme sprigs, divided in half
  • 1½ pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast tenders
  • 1½ pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs

For the rice:

  • 2 tablespoons peanut or grapeseed oil
  • 10½ oz. long-grain brown rice, jasmine or basmati (about 1½ cups)
  • ½ yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Combine marinade ingredients and half the thyme sprigs. Divide into two containers. Set aside one of the containers in the refrigerator (it will be used later as sauce for the cooked chicken). Add the raw chicken to the other container. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.

While the chicken is marinating, heat 2 tablespoons of 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 onion, garlic, and salt. Stir and continue cooking for about 10 more minutes, reducing heat as needed and being careful not to let the rice burn.

Pour the coconut milk into a large measuring cup and add water until there are 4 cups of liquid in total. Slowly pour liquid into the rice. Stir in beans and bring to a simmer. Add the other half of the thyme sprigs and continue cooking until all liquid has been absorbed. Lower heat to very low and cover for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside for 15 minutes.

About 1 hour before you’re ready to start cooking the chicken, soak the wooden skewers in water so they won’t burn. Prepare a grill for direct heat, using wood chunks such as pimento or apple if available.

Discard marinade. Thread the chicken onto the skewers. Grill at 350 degrees with the lid closed for about 5 minutes on each side, until beginning to blacken. Transfer to a platter and serve with rice and the other container of sauce for dipping.

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.

Kilika Grilled Shrimp with Soba Noodles

Tidus in Kilika tavern“Thanks for inviting me to play with you! Stop by the tavern when you’re in Kilika, okay?”

—Kulukan, FFX

  • 1 8.8-oz. package of soba noodles
  • 3 tablespoons organic expeller-pressed canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • ¼ cup tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 2 large shallots, peeled and thinly sliced into rings
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Lime wedges

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook, stirring, until tender, about 4 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water.

In a bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of canola oil and 1 tablespoon of peanut oil with the tamari or soy sauce, brown sugar, and vinegar. Add the noodles and toss. Divide between 4 bowls.

In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil. Add the shallots and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shallots to paper towels.

Add the garlic to the skillet and cook over low heat until golden and crisp, about 2 minutes. Transfer the garlic to the paper towels.

Prepare a grill for high heat. In a bowl, combine the lime zest and juice with the remaining 1 tablespoon of canola oil. Stir in the shrimp and season with salt. Grill the shrimp in a basket, turning once, until glazed and just white throughout, about 3 minutes.

Sprinkle each bowl with green onions, cilantro, red pepper, fried shallots, and garlic. Arrange the shrimp on top and serve with lime wedges.

Makes 4 servings. Per serving: 488 calories, 17.3 g. fat, 1.7 g. saturated fat, 4.6 g. poly. fat, 8.1 g. mono. fat, 172.4 mg. cholesterol, 1310.1 mg. sodium, 399.9 mg. potassium, 47.6 g. carbohydrates, 2.5 g. fiber, 34.2 g. protein, vitamin A 9%, vitamin C 5%, calcium 9%, iron 35%

Besaid Smoked Duck

Besaid“Besaid Village.”

“They got any food there?”

–Wakka and Tidus, FFX

For the paste:

  • 6 shallots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 head of garlic (about 8-12 cloves), peeled and chopped
  • 6 red Thai chiles, chopped
  • 6 macadamia nuts, chopped
  • 8″ fresh lemongrass stalk, outer leaves removed and center chopped
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger (about 3 square inches)
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh turmeric (about 1 square inch)
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • ½ tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ cup fresh lime juice
  • ¼ cup peanut oil

For the duck:

  • 10 oz. chopped kale
  • 1 whole duck, about 4 lbs.
  • Steamed white rice (optional)

Combine the paste ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulse until combined. In a large bowl, mix half the paste with the kale. Set aside.

Prepare a grill for indirect medium heat (about 300 degrees), with a pan of water under the area where the duck will be cooking.

Wash the duck inside and out with cold water and drain, cavity side down, for 2 minutes. Trim off excess skin. Pat dry with paper towels and place breast-side up on a rack in a roasting pan.

Using a sharp knife, cut a criss-cross pattern over the breast, being careful to cut through most of the fat without cutting into the meat. Prick all over the rest of the skin with a sharp knife, being careful not to cut all the way through to the meat. Rub duck with the remaining paste.

Stuff as much kale into the duck as possible and truss the legs. Refrigerate the remaining kale.

Move roasting pan to the grill, and cook, covered, for about 1 hour. Prick all over with a knife, turn to breast-side down, cover, and cook for 1 hour. Prick all over, turn to breast-side up, cover, and cook for 1 hour.

You should now be at a total of about 3 hours cook time. Check the internal temperature of the duck. Continue cooking until it reaches 165 degrees.

Increase the grill temperature to 400 degrees (or transfer to pre-heated 400 degree oven) and continue cooking for an additional 15-20 minutes, until the skin is golden-brown and crispy.

Remove the duck from the grill, transfer to a carving board, and let rest, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, remove the remaining kale from the refrigerator and sauté in a large saucepan, covered, for about 10 minutes, until tender.

Remove the kale stuffing from inside the duck and discard. Pour off the liquid from the roasting pan into a large measuring cup and refrigerate. (You can use the duck fat later to make french fries and other delicious things!)

Carve the duck and transfer to a serving platter. Serve with the sautéed kale and steamed rice.

Serves 2 people.