Breaded Cutlet with Tomato

Breaded Cutlet with Tomato“A kitchen knife… Wonder if it’s a culinary battle he wants.”

—Ignis Scientia, FFXV

For the tomato sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion or 2 small onions, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 head of garlic (about 8–12) cloves, peeled
  • 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon powdered ginger
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the cutlet sauce:

  • ½ cup homemade tomato sauce (see recipe below)
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons mirin

For the breaded cutlet:

  • 4 boneless pork loin chops, 4 to 5 ounces each, about 1 inch thick
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil, plus more for frying
  • 1½ cups Japanese-style panko bread crumbs
  • Thinly shredded raw cabbage
  • Lemon wedges

To make the tomato sauce, heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned. Add garlic and cook for another minute or so, until fragrant. Stir in the tomatoes, sugar, vinegar, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, spices, and few grinds of black pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently until the sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 1 hour, uncovered.

Remove from heat and transfer carefully to a blender. Process until smooth. Let the sauce cool before transferring to a tightly sealed container and refrigerating for up to 1 month, or freezing for up to 4 months.

Next, make the cutlet sauce by whisking together all ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Finally, to make the cutlets, begin by removing the extra fat from the pork loin chops. Make small slits all over the chops with the tip of your knife, including on the connective tissue between the meat and the fat.

Place one of the cutlets inside a heavy-duty zipper-lock bag and pound gently to ¼-inch thickness, using a meat pounder or the bottom of a heavy skillet. Season well on both sides with salt and pepper and transfer to a plate. Repeat with the other three cutlets.

Arrange three wide, shallow bowls in a row. Place the flour in the first bowl. Whisk together the eggs and grapeseed oil in the second bowl. Place the panko in the third bowl. Working with one cutlet at a time, dredge in flour with your left hand and shake off excess. Transfer to the second bowl, keeping your hand dry, and use your right hand to turn the cutlet, coating both sides in egg. Lift and allow excess liquid to drain off, then transfer to the third bowl. Use your left hand to scoop panko on top of the cutlet and press gently to ensure an even layer of crumbs on both sides. Transfer to a clean plate and repeat with the other three cutlets.

Heat ½ inch grapeseed oil in a large wok or cast-iron skillet. Heat over high heat until shimmering but not smoking, about 350 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can test the temperature by dropping a panko crumb into the oil. If it floats to the surface immediately, the oil is ready.

Using tongs, gently lower each cutlet into the oil. Fry until the bottom sides are set, about 2 minutes. Flip and fry until the other sides are set, about 2 more minutes. Flip again and cook about 3 minutes more, until golden brown on both sides.

Transfer cutlets to a cooling rack set over paper towels to drain. Season immediately with kosher salt. Cut each cutlet into three pieces by pressing the knife directly down instead of back and forth, to ensure the breading won’t come off. Then cut the larger pieces in half, using the same method, so that you end up with 6 strips of meat per cutlet.

Arrange a mound of cabbage on two plates. Divide the cutlets between the plates, placing the strips of meat on top of the cabbage. Serve immediately with lemon wedges and cutlet sauce.


Insomnia-Style Ramen Toppings

Gladio eating kakuni“Minced meat is the key to every perfect cup of noodles.”

—Gladiolus Amicitia, FFXV

  • 20 grams kombu (dried seaweed)
  • 27 grams katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup mirin, divided
  • 2 pounds pork belly
  • 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 large knob of ginger (about 3 square inches)
  • 2 Japanese green onions (negi) or leeks
  • 4 large eggs
  • ¼ cup sake
  • ¼ cup soy sauce

To make the dashi stock:

Put the kombu in a saucepan and cover with 4 cups water. Soak for at least 3 hours.

Place the saucepan over medium heat. Just before boiling, when you start to see bubbles forming around the edges of the pot, remove pan from heat and discard kombu.

Scatter katsuobushi over the surface of the water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 seconds. Remove pan from heat.

Let the katsuobushi sink to the bottom, about 10 minutes. Strain the stock through a sieve lined with a paper towel or coffee filter. Gently squeeze to release extra liquid. Cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 4 days, or freeze.

To make the kakuni and eggs:

Combine soy sauce, ¼ cup mirin, and ¾ cup water in a plastic bag and place in a sturdy bowl. Refrigerate for later use.

Pound the pork on both sides with a meat pounder, then use your hands to mold it back into its original shape. Cut into 2-inch chunks.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet or frying pan over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add pork cubes, fat side down, and sear until brown. Once browned, turn and quickly cook all six surfaces until browned.

Push the meat to one side and add sugar to the liquid fat. Stir until it’s a bit caramelized, then toss with the meat until coated. Transfer meat to a large soup pot and add the star anise.

Peel and cut the ginger into thick slices and add half of it to the pot. Refrigerate the other half for later use.

Remove the white part of the onions or leeks and refrigerate for later use. Chop the green part into 2-inch pieces and rinse well to get rid of any sand or dirt between layers before adding to the pot.

Add water to cover the meat and bring to a boil. Once it’s boiling, carefully submerge eggs using a skimmer or ladle. Immediately reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 7 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath. Remove eggs and soak in ice bath for 3 minutes.

While the eggs are soaking, cover the pot and continue to simmer for at least 3 hours, stirring occasionally.

Gently peel the soft-boiled eggs, place them in the sauce bag so that they are completely submerged, and close tightly. Transfer to the refrigerator and marinate overnight.

When the meat is done cooking, remove the pieces from the pot and transfer to a paper towel. Drain and discard the cooking liquid and vegetables.

Return the meat to the pot and add dashi stock, ¼ cup mirin, sake, soy sauce, and the rest of the ginger slices. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cover. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Remove the lid and cook for 30 minutes more, until sauce is reduced. Transfer meat and sauce to a sealed container and refrigerate overnight.

Slice the leftover white parts of the onion or leeks into thin matchsticks. Slice the eggs in half.

Serve kakuni cubes on top of ramen with the onion pieces and halved eggs.

Garula Stock

Gladio eating soup“Any food you make tastes better when you use good ingredients, right?”

—Gladiolus Amicitia, FFXV

For the broth:

  • Bones from 1 roasted chickatrice
  • 2½ pounds garula trotters, split lengthwise or cut crosswise into 1-inch disks (you can ask your butcher to do this for you)
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil or another vegetable oil with neutral flavor
  • 1 bulbous wild onion, skin on and quartered lengthwise
  • 1 head of garlic, skin on and halved crosswise to expose the cloves
  • 1 small knob of Kettier ginger, skin on and roughly chopped
  • 2 leeks, roughly chopped and rinsed well
  • 6 ounces scallions, white parts only (reserve light and dark green parts for garnish)
  • 7 ounces whole alstrooms, or shiitake mushrooms

For the tare:

  • 20 grams kombu (dried seaweed)
  • 30 grams niboshi (dried sardines)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 27 grams katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)
  • ¼ cup sake
  • ¼ cup mirin
  • 1 cup soy sauce

Place chickatrice bones and garula trotters in a large soup pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, put a heavy frying pan over medium heat and heat grapeseed oil until lightly smoking. Add onion, garlic, and ginger and toast until lightly charred on most sides, about 15 minutes. Set aside.

As soon as it comes to a boil, remove pot from heat, transfer bones to a colander, and rinse well. Using a chopstick and cold running water, remove blood, dark marrow, and anything else that isn’t beige or white.

Return bones to the soup pot and add charred vegetables, leeks, scallion whites, and alstrooms. Cover with cold water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat, skimming off any scum that appears and wiping off any black or grey scum from around the rim of the pot.

Reduce heat to a low simmer and cover. Check the pot after 15 minutes; it should be at a slow rolling boil. If not, slightly increase or decrease heat as needed. Continue boiling until stock is opaque and thickened to the texture of light cream, about 10–12 hours, checking periodically to ensure bones are submerged and adding more water if necessary.

Remove from heat and let cool until safe to handle, no more than 1 hour. Place a colander on top of a large pot.

Drape with cheesecloth folded into a large square. Strain stock into the colander. Discard bones and vegetables, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

Next, make the tare. This is the salty base that you’ll combine with the garula stock when preparing your bowl of ramen. Without the tare, the garula stock is bland and flavorless.

Put the kombu in a bowl and cover with 1 cup water. Soak for at least 3 hours.

Heat the sesame oil in a medium saucepan. Add niboshi and saute for about 1 minute over medium heat until golden, being careful not to overcook. Add kombu and soaking liquid. Just before boiling, when you start to see bubbles forming around the edges of the pot, remove pan from heat and discard kombu.

Scatter katsuobushi over the surface of the water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 seconds. Remove pan from heat.

Let the katsuobushi sink to the bottom, about 10 minutes. Strain the stock through a sieve lined with a paper towel or coffee filter. Gently squeeze to release extra liquid. Set stock aside and discard the fish.

Add the sake and mirin to the empty saucepan and boil for about 5 minutes. Stir in soy sauce and bring to just under a boil. Remove from heat and let rest for a few minutes before stirring in the fish broth.

When you’re ready to prepare your bowl of ramen, bring the garula stock to a simmer over low heat. Place two tablespoons of the tare (fish stock and soy sauce mixture) in a bowl and top with 1 cup hot garula stock. Whisk well to combine and add noodles and toppings.

Takka’s After-Hours Chili

takka“Y’all wanna fetch some edibles for me?”

—Takka, FFXV

This one isn’t listed on the menu at Takka’s Pit Stop, probably because one of the main ingredients is whiskey. But if you can get on Takka’s good side, he might offer you a bowl after hours.

Make sure you buy Spanish chorizo, not Mexican chorizo (they’re quite different). If you can’t find Spanish chorizo, you can substitute another cured and smoked sausage like salami. The spicier the better!

Finally, when you’re done cutting up the pork shoulder, save the bone in your freezer for stock. I usually have a big bag with vegetable ends, chicken bones, and other assortments. When it gets full, I dump it into a pot, add water, and simmer low for a few hours. Homemade stock is one of the best things you can do to improve your cooking, and it’s easy.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 to 4 pound pork shoulder, bone removed and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 6 to 8 ounces raw bacon (half a package), cut into ½” strips
  • 1 large onion or two small onions, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4 14-oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 14-oz. cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 canned chipotle chiles, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  •  4 cups chicken broth
  • 200 ml whiskey such as Jim Beam, divided
  • 4 ounces Spanish chorizo, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1 bunch cilantro, washed and chopped
  • Sour cream
  • Chives

Heat olive oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add pork and season with salt and pepper. Brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and beginning to crisp, about 10 minutes. Add onions and celery and cook for an additional 10 minutes.

Stir in beans, chipotles, cumin, broth, and ½ cup whiskey and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer, stirring occasionally, about 2 hours, until pork is tender.

Stir in chorizo and remaining ¼ cup whiskey. Simmer, uncovered, until flavors are blended, about 10 minutes more. Stir in cilantro. Ladle into bowls and serve with sour cream and chives. Makes about 9 servings.


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.

Dali Pumpkin Ale Stew

Art designs for cups in FFIX“I’ve got better things to do than hang out at the pub.”

—Zidane, FFIX

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8-12 garlic cloves (1 bulb), peeled and halved
  • 2 serrano chile peppers, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • ½ tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 3–4 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 22-ounce bottle of pumpkin ale, such as Coronado Punk’In Drublic
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • About 2 pounds fresh or canned chopped tomatoes and their juices
  • 2 14-oz. cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 14-oz. cans white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 14-oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon turbinado sugar
  • ½ oz. dried chiles guajillos, stems removed (about 2–4 peppers)
  • ¼ oz. dried chiles de arbol, stems removed (about 8–12 peppers)
  • ¾ oz. cilantro, washed and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • Fresh corn tortillas
  • Sour cream
  • Chopped red onion
  • Lime wedges

Heat olive oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add garlic, serrano peppers, chili powder, cumin, coriander, and smoked paprika. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the garlic is turning golden. Add pork and season with salt and pepper. Brown on all sides, about 15 minutes.

Slowly pour in the beer, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan and increasing the heat. Add broth, tomatoes, and beans and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, stir in oregano, sugar, and dried chiles, and cover. Simmer, stirring occasionally, about 3 hours.

Remove from heat and discard chiles. Stir in cilantro and apple cider vinegar. Ladle into bowls and serve with tortillas, sour cream, red onion, and lime wedges.

Makes about 12 heaping 1-cup servings.  Per serving (does not include tortillas and sour cream): 450 calories, 14.3 g. fat, 3.9 g. saturated fat, 1.6 g. poly. fat, 7.6 g. mono. fat, 88.7 mg. cholesterol, 1282.9 mg. sodium (this will be less if you use homemade chicken stock instead of storebought), 651 mg. potassium, 40.5 g. carbohydrates, 13.2 g. fiber, 39.1 g. protein, vitamin A 6%, vitamin C 16%, calcium 16%, iron 31%

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!”


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.