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.

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%

Elixir Soup

Terra and elixir in Narshe“Show me the alchemist who doesn’t wish in his heart of hearts to know the secret behind making an elixir, and I’ll show you a fraud! Of course, he might already know it… but it’s taboo to reveal the ingredients.”

—Tyak, Master Chef, FFXII

Okay, so you already know to start a pot of White Mage Chicken Soup when you feel like you might be getting sick, right? Well, this is the soup to cook when you’re feeling stressed out, rundown, and in need of some serious super-strength mind and body healing power. It’s packed full of ingredients to reduce your stress levels and make you stronger.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 large yellow onion or 2 small onions, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
  • 4 medium carrots, chopped (about 1½ cups)
  • 3½ oz. shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced very thinly
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1½ pounds beef stew meat, uncooked, cut into 1″ pieces
  • ½ tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 cup dry green split peas (about 6 oz.)
  • 1 pound fresh plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 12 oz. sweet potato (1 large or 2 small), peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • Fresh oregano sprigs
  • Fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 5-inch pieces of dried seaweed (optional)
  • 12 oz. broccoli florets
  • 6 oz. baby bok choy, chopped
  • 1 head of garlic (about 8–12 cloves), peeled and grated or pressed
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger (about 3 square inches)
  • Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons to ¼ cup)
  • Diced avocado and fresh basil leaves (optional)

Heat olive oil and coconut oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat just until the oil begins to shimmer. Add onions, reduce heat, and cook for about 10 minutes, covered. Stir frequently and reduce heat as needed if the onions are browning too quickly. Add carrots and mushrooms and cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

Add chicken and beef and sprinkle with sea salt, cayenne pepper, coriander, cumin, and turmeric. Brown on all sides, about 15 minutes. Stir in split peas and cook for about 1 minute. Add tomatoes and sweet potato and continue cooking for another minute. Pour in broth and bring to a boil. Add oregano, thyme, bay leaves, and seaweed. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover.

Simmer, stirring occasionally, until stew meat and split peas are soft and tender, about 2 hours.

Remove from heat and stir in broccoli, bok choy, garlic, ginger, and lemon juice. Cover and let rest for about 5 minutes, until the broccoli is bright green and crunchy-tender. Divide into bowls and top with avocado and basil, if desired.

Makes about 12 heaping 1-cup servings. Per serving (not including avocado): 319 calories, 9.2 g. fat, 3.9 g. saturated fat, 0.9 g. poly. fat, 2.5 g. mono. fat, 79.1 mg. cholesterol, 966.4 mg. sodium (this will be less if you use homemade chicken stock instead of storebought), 724.5 mg. potassium, 25.2 g. carbohydrates, 6.1 g. fiber, 34.2 g. protein, vitamin A 62%, vitamin C 58%, calcium 9%, iron 17%

Landisian Beef Stew with Bacon, Bratwurst, and Beer

Basch and Noah fon Ronsenburg“After Vayne’s ruse I had abandoned hope for honor… yet never did I forget my knightly vows. If I could protect but one person from war’s horror… then I would bear any shame. I would bear it proudly.

“I could not defend my home. What is shame to me?”

—Basch fon Ronsenburg, FFXII

  • 22 oz. bottle of strong Belgian-style ale, such as Stone’s Cali-Belgique IPA
  • 1½ lbs. beef stew meat
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 6 oz. raw bacon, cut into ¼” strips
  • 1 pound of carrots, scrubbed and sliced diagonally into 1” pieces (about 3 cups)
  • 15 garlic cloves (about 1½ bulbs), peeled and halved, divided into two piles of 10 cloves and 5 cloves
  • 2 large yellow onions, quartered lengthwise and sliced crosswise (about 4 cups)
  • 2 bratwurst sausages, uncooked, casing removed and cut into 1″ pieces (about 7 oz. total)
  • 10 oz. sliced crimini mushrooms
  • Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • 2 cups homemade chicken stock or beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • ¾ oz. flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1 crusty French baguette

Open the 22 oz. bottle of beer and measure out 1 cup. Set aside. Pour the remaining beer into a glass and enjoy it while making the soup.

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 heavy-bottomed soup pot or Dutch oven 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 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden-brown and tender.

Stir in sausage and mushrooms and cook until browned on all sides, about 20 minutes. Add the stew meat in a single layer and season with salt and pepper to taste. Brown on all sides, about 20 more minutes.

Slowly pour in 1 cup of beer and 2 cups of broth, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan as you go, and bring to a boil. Stir well and add sugar, bay leaves, and a few sprigs of fresh thyme.

Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for about 1½ hours, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until the meat is soft and tender. Remove from heat. Discard thyme and bay leaves. Using a garlic press, add the remaining 5 cloves of garlic to the pot. Stir in vinegar and parsley, and serve with crusty bread.

Makes about 5 heaping 1-cup servings. Per serving (does not include baguette): 513 calories, 22.9 g. fat, 9.2 g. saturated fat, 0.1 g. poly. fat, 118.5 mg. cholesterol, 604.1 mg. sodium, 645 mg. potassium, 31.4 g. carbohydrates, 4.2 g. fiber, 42.6 g. protein, vitamin A 62%, vitamin C 19%, calcium 7%, iron 19%

Imperial Steak with Brandy Sauce

Imperial banquet at Vector“Quite the affair, throwing a banquet to welcome the Imperials, eh?”

—Tomaj, FFXII

  • Two 8-ounce baseball steaks
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 oz. mixed baby greens
  • 10 oz. sliced crimini mushrooms
  • 1 shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 airplane-size bottle of brandy (50 ml)
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley

Preheat a large skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle steaks liberally with salt and pepper. Add oil and butter to the skillet; when the foam subsides, turn the heat to medium-high and put in the steaks.

Cook steaks for about 10–12 minutes per side, until internal temperature reaches at least 120 degrees. Meanwhile, divide the greens between two plates. When the steaks are ready, transfer to the plates.

Add mushrooms and shallots to the skillet and stir until tender, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and stir in brandy (be careful; it may ignite), then the mustard, then the cream.

Simmer until sauce is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Divide between the plates and top with parsley.

Makes 2 servings. Per serving: 1,148 calories, 98.4 g. fat, 48.3 g. saturated fat, 4.8 g. poly. fat, 37.9 g. mono. fat, 300.4 mg. cholesterol, 271.9 mg. sodium, 1,632.5 mg. potassium, 13.4 g. carbohydrates, 1.7 g. fiber, 53.6 g. protein, vitamin A 131%, vitamin C 69%, calcium 22%, iron 26%

Café Carta Chicken Fettuccine

Café Carta in Treno“I purchased a life-sized griffon statue the other day…”

“How wonderful! I bet it’s gorgeous.”

“Indeed, it is. I had to add a room to my mansion for it!”

—Nobles in Treno, FFIX

  • 1 16-oz. box of fettuccine
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1½ lbs. boneless, skinless chicken, each breast cut crosswise into 3 pieces
  • Kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • ½ yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 10 oz. sliced crimini mushrooms
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 cup Chianti or Sangiovese wine
  • 8 oz. mascarpone cheese
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley

Start boiling the water for the fettuccine. Heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet over high heat. Add chicken and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until browned, but not fully cooked, about 4 minutes on each side. Transfer the chicken to a plate.

Add onion to the skillet and cook until tender, about 2 minutes, reducing heat as necessary to avoid burning. Add mushrooms and garlic and sauté until the juices evaporate, about 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the chicken breasts crosswise into slices, about ½” thick. The water should be boiling by now; prepare fettuccine as per package directions.

Add wine to the mushrooms and simmer until reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Stir in the mascarpone and the mustard. Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the skillet. Simmer until the chicken is just cooked through and the sauce thickens slightly, about 2 minutes.

Divide the fettuccine between six bowls. Remove the skillet from heat, stir in the parsley, and divide the chicken mixture evenly between the six bowls.

Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 652 calories, 28.4 g. fat, 14.5 g. saturated fat, 1.2 g. poly. fat, 5.2 g. mono. fat, 121 mg. cholesterol, 346.7 mg. sodium, 551.1 mg. potassium, 62.7 g. carbohydrates, 3.5 g. fiber, 35.1 g. protein, vitamin A 12%, vitamin C 4%, calcium 6%, iron 19%

Rienna Barley Stew with Tchita Greens

Tchita Uplands“I do so love to cook! Why, the other day, I held an impromptu party at my house, and fed a new dish of mine to my closest acquaintances. Why, they told me ’twas a taste to tantalize the tongue of a philosopher of cuisine! Yet… their faces were sour as old Nanna cheese.”

—FFXII

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1½ lbs. beef stew meat, uncooked, cut into 1” pieces
  • Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 large onion or two small onions, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
  • 8-12 garlic cloves (1 bulb), peeled and halved
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 10 oz. sliced crimini mushrooms
  • 1 cup dry white wine, such as pinot grigio
  • 10 oz. chopped kale
  • ¾ cup pearl barley
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 7 oz. plain Greek-style yogurt
  • Fresh chives

Heat butter and oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add stew meat in a single layer and season with salt and pepper. Brown on all sides, about 15 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium and add onions and garlic. Sprinkle with sage. Cook until onions are turning golden, about 10 minutes.

Add mushrooms and cook until all their liquid has been released and the pot is almost dry, about 15 more minutes. Slowly begin adding the wine, scraping the crusty bits from the bottom and maintaining a simmer.

Stir in kale. Once it’s wilted somewhat, stir in the pearl barley. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until stew meat and barley are soft and tender, about 2 hours.

Remove pot from heat. In a small bowl, combine the yogurt and a little broth from the stew (this prevents curdling instead of adding the yogurt all at once). Stir the yogurt mixture into the stew until combined. Divide into bowls, garnish with chives, and serve.

Makes about 8 heaping 1-cup servings. Per serving: 336 calories, 14.7 g. fat, 5.2 g. saturated fat, 0.9 g. poly. fat, 6 g. mono. fat, 64.6 mg. cholesterol, 840.9 mg. sodium (this will be less if you use homemade chicken stock instead of storebought broth), 588.8 mg. potassium, 26.4 g. carbohydrates, 4.4 g. fiber, 25.7 g. protein, vitamin A 43%, vitamin C 62%, calcium 13%, iron 20%