Tag Archives: thyme

Beef and Bacon Pie with Onions In Gravy | “Game of Thrones”

by Blake Stilwell of (according to numerous online Game of Thrones-based personality tests) House Baratheon.

"Our Favorite Food"

“Ours is Our Favorite Food”

I actually believe if House Stilwell had a place in Westeros, our sigil would likely be a fat bear, wearing a bib and drinking  two fingers of scotch. I also think this is probably Robert Baratheon’s personal sigil, one he just never talked about.  But this isn’t about me, this is a celebration!

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This month, HBO dropped the latest season of Game of Thrones on Blu-Ray, a gift for which I have already pre-ordered for my mother (it was her Christmas gift. Don’t judge me. I got schmaltzy gifts for her for the past five years and I think she actually liked this much better). Of course I didn’t wait for this to watch. Who possibly could? To celebrate this momentous occasion (and maybe have it available for this year’s premiere of Season Four), As Eaten brings you something as epic as the Game of Thrones theme song: a hearty dish from the North!

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Not that far North.

No, not Ygritte. It’s a Beef and Bacon Pie, from the lands around Winterfell! The recipe comes from A Feast of Ice and Fire: the Official Game of Thrones Cookbook by Chelsea Monroe-Cassel and Sariann Lehrer, based on their blog Inn At The Crossroads. This book is more than a recipe book. Its an exhaustively-researched history of food and medieval cookery. It’s a fascinating mix of narrative and historical context. I highly recommend this. It’s so much more than a cookbook. And if you’re throwing a Game of Thrones-themed party, you will not find a better companion!

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Well.. maybe one better companion…

The North of Westeros is a vast, cold place. As such, the food tends to toward what we in the US call “comfort food.” They are heavy, hearty plates, full of meats, gravies, breads, and such. This recipe is no different. The difference is where the comfort food in the US can be bland at times, save the use of salt and pepper, the use of fruits and spices in this  meat mixture brings a unique, exotic flavor.

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It’ll taste better than you think it will.

But you’ll need to start with the medieval pastry dough. There is a special recipe, and the first ingredient should be an indicator of the uniqueness of flavors I’m talking about. If it sounds weird that the North of Westeros uses Saffron in its baking doughs, there is a very interesting explanation, based in both the lore of the Game of Thrones universe as well as Medieval History, thoroughly researched and presented to the reader. It’s really a good read. And it’s delicious.

Pinch of Saffron
1/2 C Water
1/2 C Unsalted Butter
3 C Flour 2 Egg Yolks, beaten

Dissolve the saffron in the water. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingers until there are only crumb-sized pieces. Add the egg yolks and saffron water until the mixture is sticky. To pre-bake a shell, line a pan with thin-rolled dough.use a fork to poke holes all over the bottom of the pastry shells. Bake for 10 minutes at 350° F.

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Beef and Bacon Pie

The book offers two recipes, a modern version and a medieval version. The recipe I used from this book is more of the medieval sort, which I think more appropriate, given the setting of the show and books.

1/2 c thick-cut bacon, diced
1 1/2 lbs stew beef, diced
1/2 tsp black pepper 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 c red wine vinegar
1/3 c prunes
1/3 c raisins
1/3 c dates pitted and chopped
1 c beef broth
2-3 tbsp flour
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 375° F.  Cook the bacon in a saucepan until the fat runs from it, then drain off the fat. To the bacon pan, add the beef, spices, vinegar, and fruits. Add enough broth to wet the mixture until its runny. Mix in the flour and cook until the juices form a gravy. Cool the mixture. Line a 9-inch pie pan with a pastry dough and fill it with the meat mixture.

The book calls for a pastry lid. But the book has a great photo of a pie with a bacon lattice lid, so we decided to go with this because it was so much more epic. We used the remaining chewy bacon that wasn’t quite crispy to form the lattice so it would crips in the oven. The fruit will melt as the pie bakes and form a sweet, salty, savory mix of flavors that is absolutely fantastic.

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Onions in Gravy

10 oz boiler or pearl onions
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 sprig of freshly chopped savory herb, such as rosemary or thyme
1/3 c apple cider
1 tbsp flour
3 c beef stock
Splash of Brandy

Clean and peel the onions. Quarter seven of them and put the rest aside. In a deep frying pan, add the honey, herbs, and quartered onions.make sure the onions get covered with the honey-butter mixture, cook for 8 minutes, browning the onions. Add the cider to the pan in three distinct splashes. let the cider heat between splashes. Sprinkle flour into the pan and form a gravy. Add the stock and the rest of the onions and bring to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes and reduce until it has a thicker, more gravy-like consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste. We garnished with rosemary because it looked nice and we had some left over.

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This one-two punch combination of sweet and savory is a filling, hearty meal fit for you or any Stark. Any Stark that may still be alive, that is.

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Aubergine Stew | “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”

Star Trek is a show with which most people have some familiarity, especially now that the JJ Abrams movies are popular (don’t get me started on that). Star Trek is a permanent entry in the US pop culture lexicon. Most people know at least who Captain Kirk is and who Mr. Spock is, but beyond that, it is left to the fans of the shows to know who is who on the Enterprise, who does what on the ship, and so on. It takes an even bigger fan to be familiar with Star Trek in its further incarnations: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, etc.Warning: Huge Star Trek fan is about to write about Star Trek.

Everyone has to eat, even in the 23rd century.  There are a lot of beverages that were favorites of the various crews… Worf’s fondness for prune juice is well-documented.  To this day, I still order tea the iconic way Captain Picard did. And Mr. Scott (Scotty) enjoyed scotch on many occasions.

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Three fingers of scotch make you a miracle worker.

Yet, aside from the occasional view of the bright blue, nearly glowing Romulan Ale, the still-moving tentacles of Klingon Gakh or some such other slight asides,  food wasn’t really a focus for the Original Series or the Next Generation. The feature of food really came into its own in the third incarnation of the series, Deep Space Nine. Set on a space station in a remote area of the galaxy, combined with the setting of a series of shops and restaurants on the station, allowed for the introduction of new customs and culture into the canon. Crew members met for regular lunches, dinners and happy hours. Crewmen had strong Klingon coffee in the morning and ate dinners with their families at night. The commander of the station, Benjamin Sisko, played by Avery Brooks, even had a father who was a famous chef in New Orleans back on Earth. Consequently, much of the food in the Sisko household and on the show is of Cajun-Creole origin.

Right away, in the first episode, Sisko is imagining meeting his wife on a beach, offering to make her his father’s recipe for Aubergine Stew. Later in the same season, Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell) comes into a room where Sisko is waiting to have dinner with his son, and recognizes the stew right away. Since the two have been friends for years, the implication is that he makes it a lot.

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And it is apparently really enjoyable, best eaten with a giant spoon.

Coming back to Earth for a minute, aubergine is a kind of eggplant. It is very popular in Middle Eastern and Persian cuisine, and is best when paired with lamb. That being said, it is important to keep in mind that the Sisko family is from Louisiana, not Tehran. His father’s recipe would likely be a derivative of khoresht-e bademjan, a kind of Persian Eggplant Tomato Stew, but would have significant differences. Khoresht-e bademjan would have spices from the region: Saffron, Turmeric, Advieh. Sisko’s Aubergine Stew would have spices from Louisiana: thyme, cayenne pepper, cumin, black pepper – and would more than likely be made with chicken instead of lamb. It would also include what is well-known in cooking circles as the “holy trinity” of cajun cuisine: bell peppers (I prefer green), onions and celery.

Ingredients:
3 skinless chicken thighs
2 eggplants (aubergines), peeled, diced into medium pieces, and salted overnight
(rinse an hour before cooking)
2 onions, diced
2 leeks, sliced into rings
1 bell pepper (again, any color, but I prefer green)
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 large can crushed tomatoes
oregano, thyme, cayenne pepper, cumin and black pepper, about 1/2 tsp of each
Salt
Olive oil

An hour or so before you cook, rinse the eggplant and dry. Heat oil in a large, deep pan. Sauté eggplant til golden brown, not burnt.

In a large pot or saucepan, heat more olive oil. Cook the onion, garlic and celery until soft, then add the spices and cook for a minute or so until they are fragrant. Add eggplant to the pot then cook for another couple of minutes.

Add the rest of the vegetables and cook until they soften slightly. Then add the crushed tomatoes and mix to distribute tomatoes evenly. Add the chicken to the vegetables, cover the chicken in the vegetable mixture then put the lid on the pot and cook on a low heat for about 45 minutes. When you first add the chicken, it will seem too dry to be left on the burner, but don’t worry… the chicken stock is coming.

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When its all done, he vegetables should be soft and the chicken will be falling off the bone.

Remove the chicken from the stew and shred the meat. Set aside, along with about a quarter of the stew mixture. Using a food processor or blender, blend the rest of the stew smooth. Put everything back into the main pot and mix well. It is now ready to serve. Garnish with some green, such as chopped parsley.

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I apparently really love parsley.

Khoresht-e bademjan would be served over Persian-style rice. Considering the rice tradition in creole cooking in New Orleans, I think the Aubergine Stew would be nice over rice, but not necessary, as Dax clearly demonstrated with her giant spoon.

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