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 Jam

Mandragora, FFIX“A vexing Representative of the Deadly Nightshade Family has been sighted nearby Rabanastre!”

—bestiary entry, FFXII

I initially wanted to write this as a vegetarian recipe, but the addition of bacon makes it such a good partner for meat-based dishes like burgers that I couldn’t resist. However, it’s just as good if you leave the bacon out. You can substitute a tablespoon of olive oil instead.

If you decide to include the bacon, save the leftover grease and use it to make Oglop-Oiled Popped Corn.

  • 6 oz. smoked bacon, uncooked (about 4 slices)
  • 1 shallot, peeled and chopped
  • 2 pounds fresh tomatoes, washed well, stems removed, and chopped (about 3 cups)
  • 1 serrano chile pepper, minced
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablepoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon ras el hanout
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Arrange the bacon on a baking sheet and place in an unheated oven. Turn the heat to 425 and cook until crisp, about 20–25 minutes, turning once halfway through the cooking time. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to cool.

Heat a Dutch oven or large deep-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Drain the bacon grease from the baking sheet into a sturdy container. Remove 1 tablespoon and add to the skillet. Save the rest in the fridge for later use (optional).

Add the chopped shallots to the skillet. Cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until they begin to brown. Add the chopped tomatoes, chile pepper, vinegar, honey, brown sugar, salt, ras el hanout, and few grinds of black pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently until the sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium-low and crumble in the bacon.

Simmer for about 1 hour, uncovered, until the consistency is as thick as you like it. (The jam will thicken more in the fridge.) Remove from heat and let the jam cool, then pour into freezer-safe containers and freeze for up to 4 months. It will keep in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Makes about 20 ounces of jam. Per 2-tablespoon serving: 78 calories, 4 g. fat, 7 g. carbohydrates, 1 g. fiber, 3 g. protein, iron 2%

Sky Pirate’s Sandwich

Balthier Bunansa“A pirate would do well to smile. Wouldn’t want to sour his reputation.”

—Jules, FFXII

This sandwich is best when it’s freshly cooked — leftovers become dry and less flavorful. Make a full batch of the chickpea batter, but only fry as much as you can eat in one sitting and store the rest of the batter in the fridge. It will keep for about a week, or you can shape it into balls and freeze for several months.

For the sauce:

  • 7 oz. plain lowfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 lb. Persian cucumbers, washed and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt

For the chickpea batter:

  • ½ pound dry chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • ½ yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh curly parsley
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 17-oz. bottle grapeseed oil

For the sandwich:

  • Mediterranean flatbread
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Fresh romaine lettuce
  • Thinly sliced white onion

Start about 8 hours before you want to serve the sandwiches. First, place the dried garbanzo beans in a large bowl and cover with 4 cups of cold water. Next, mix together the ingredients for the sauce and refrigerate.

About 2 hours before you want to serve the sandwiches, drain and rinse the chickpeas and pour them into a food processor or blender along with the chopped onion, parsley, garlic, flour, salt, cumin, ground coriander, turmeric, cayenne pepper, and smoked paprika. Blend until mixture is combined, but still chunky. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for 1–2 hours.

When you’re ready to start cooking, pour the bottle of oil into a large skillet. Heat the oil over medium heat. Meanwhile, start shaping the chickpea mixture into round balls or patties, about 2 tablespoons of mixture per ball.

Drop a test ball into the center of the skillet. It should take about 3 minutes per side to brown. If it’s browning too fast, reduce heat before adding the rest of the balls. Once they’re fried on both sides, remove from oil and drain on paper towels. Serve immediately with warm flatbread, yogurt sauce, tomatoes, lettuce, and raw onion.

Makes about 21 balls. When the oil has cooled, you can transfer it to a tightly-sealed container and refrigerate it up for up to a month to reuse in another recipe, such as Queen Brahne’s Fried Chicken and Biscuits.

Tsenoble Pork Tenderloin with Horseradish Sauce

Vaan taking the cab to Tsenoble“Good to be back, eh? My regards to your lord father, Master Ffamran… er, rather, Master ‘Balthier.’ Anon, anon.”

—Jules, FFXII

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pork tenderloin (about 2 pounds)
  • Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
  • 7 oz. plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons (45 g.) prepared horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon (15 g.) Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ tablespoon (7 g.) Louisiana-style hot sauce, such as Crystal
  • Snipped chives (optional)

Heat oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add pork and season generously with salt and pepper. Cook, turning and seasoning occasionally, until all sides are golden and crispy, about 40–45 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the horseradish sauce. Mix together the yogurt, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and chives. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Check the tenderloin’s internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer. Continue cooking and turning until thermometer inserted in center registers 140–145 degrees. Remove and let rest about 5 minutes. Slice into ½-inch-thick medallions and serve with horseradish sauce.

After you’ve finished eating, hand wash your cast-iron skillet with water and a soft sponge, then dry immediately and rub with a light coat of vegetable oil, such as grapeseed. Any leftover horseradish sauce goes great with smoked salmon and crackers, or on a baked potato.

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.

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.

Airship Salad

Aeris and airshipCid: “Wow, what a ship!”

Setzer: “That landing really messed up the engine. It’ll take a while to fix.”

Cid: “I’ll help. No machine can stump me!”

Setzer: “Don’t touch anything!”

Cid: “Go kill time in the casino! I can speed this crate up!”

—FFVI

You can use any dressing you like with this recipe. Here are two suggestions: Trader Joe’s low-fat parmesan ranch dressing, or for a more indulgent choice, Russian dressing (first three ingredients of the linked recipe).

  • 7 oz. chopped butter lettuce (about 5 cups)
  • 8 oz. cooked chicken or turkey breast, cut into strips
  • 8 oz. smoked deli ham, cut into strips
  • 4 oz. crumbled Roquefort or Gorgonzola cheese
  • 1 lb. Persian cucumbers, ends removed, cut in half, then quartered lengthwise
  • 2 fresh tomatoes, washed well and cut into wedges
  • 2 hardboiled eggs, peeled and halved lengthwise
  • 1 ripe avocado, peel and pit removed, sliced thinly lengthwise
  • 6 oz. raw bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled, warm (optional)
  • Watercress sprigs or microgreens, for garnish (optional)
  • Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
  • Salad dressing

Divide ingredients evenly between 4 bowls. Drizzle with dressing and serve immediately.

Per serving (does not include salad dressing): 509 calories, 27 g. fat, 17 g. carbohydrates, 8 g. fiber, 47 g. protein, iron 12%