Thursday, February 27, 2014

Game of Thrones Feast

If you're anything like me (that is to say, obsessed with the Game of Thrones series to the point of having all the books, the card game, and shot glasses) then you'll appreciate this culinary experiment. For Christmas last year I gave my sister A Feast of Ice & Fire, The Official Game of Thrones Companion Cookbook, and we decided to make a feast for our family using some of the recipes. The cookbook was written by fellow fans who researched who consulted with George R.R. Martin and researched medieval cooking techniques, so it's as authentic as possible. Well, as authentic as can be when dealing with a fictional fantasy world, that is.

Here's what we made:

Sister's Stew:

For the first course of our Game of Thrones feast, we served the soup of the Sisters (like nuns in the books.) It was hands down the best chowder I've ever had - and I've been living in New England for the past decade - so rich and decadent. With white fish and clams simmered in saffron-infused cream with leeks, carrots, and turnips, the unlikely ingredient that really put this soup over the edge was the vermouth - each spoonful was velvety on the tongue. See the recipe at Inn at the Crossroads, the blog of the fabulous cookbook writers.

Bowl of Brown: 

This stew is the typical peasant's food in King's Landing, the capital city of the fictional Westeros. One of the great things about the Game of Thrones cookbook is that it organizes recipes by geographical region of the books' world, such as the hearty winter time food of the Wall or the North, or more exotic cuisine from the lands to the east. I chose to make this brown because it seemed the perfect kind of food for a cold, snowy day, and is certainly interesting: the running joke in the books is that a bowl of brown is brown liquid with mysterious meats floating in it - just about anything could get thrown in to the pot, whatever's available - so it really was a hodgepodge loose interpretation of a recipe. My brown had beef chuck, mushrooms, turnips, carrots, apples, pearl onions, spicy sausage (to represent the dog meat), thyme, a bit of molasses, and a bottle of beer poured in. I slow-cooked it for hours, using the spice mixture recommended as a derivation of a medieval seasoning base, which included some classic savory spices as well as earthy cinnamon and cloves, and then of course I added more paprika for heat since I can't help myself. The result was a really interesting stew with complex flavors that warmed you to the core, right down to the toes.

I served the brown over this grain mixture (as a substitute for barley):

As a side dish we made this white beans and greens mixture that reminded me of Tuscan food (not surprising considering most Tuscan food comes from medieval peasant dishes, like these recipes):

Broccoli rabe, white beans, bacon, and red onions

And we set the table for a proper feast:

We served the feast with seven grain bread (because of the seven kingdoms of Westeros ... I know, I'm a nerd) and plenty of hot spiced wine. It was a feast fit for kings.