Winter is indeed coming and with it comes the Holidays. Thanksgiving is a time for friends, family members and bannermen to gather around the hearth and celebrate what truly matters in this cold and cruel world where tragedy is around every corner– food! Our friends, Sariann and Chelsea over at Inn At the Crossroads have been cooking up a storm for some time now and have put together some recipes based on the foods described in A Song of Ice and Fire series of which HBO’s Game of Thrones is derrived.
Drawing on the techniques used in medieval Europe, these two aspiring chefs are taking recipes that haven’t been used in 500 years and breathing new life into them with a sprinkle of inspiration provided by the man who made this all possible, George RR Martin. If you haven’t read the novels, you’ll want to know that food, dining and breaking bread play major roles in the world of Westeros. Martin goes out of his way to describe the foods your favorite characters enjoy whether it be the meager rations of a traveling group of soldiers or the extravagant dishes served at royal weddings. If there is a bit of magic left in the world of Westeros, surely some of it is in the amazing recipes you’ll find here.
We’ve thumbed through some of the recipes over at Inn at the Crossroads and chose a few that make sense for what those of us outside of Westeros and/or 16th century Europe call ‘Thanksgiving’. You can try these recipes, or if you prefer, any of the other delicious dishes over at Inn at the Crossroads but be sure to return here and let us know how it tasted! Something smells good so let’s get to the food, shall we?
The Old Bear’s Hot Spiced Wine
“The Old Bear was particular about his hot spiced wine. So much cinnamon and so much nutmeg and so much honey, not a drop more. Raisins and nuts and dried berries, but no lemon, that was the rankest sort of southron heresy…” (II:374)
The medieval recipe produces a hearty mulled wine, rich in spices. It is heavy and strong, without the sweetness of modern mulled wine, and might not be quite as universally palatable. That said, if you are making wine to serve out of doors on a cold winter night, this is the more warming of the two recipes.
Bottom line? Modern if you are throwing a party, medieval if you are planning to walk The Wall at night.
“Cersei set a tasty table, that could not be denied. They started with a creamy chestnut soup, crusty hot bread, and greens dressed with apples and pine nuts.” (II: 565)
Cersei knows her foods; this is a rich, creamy concoction of yummy goodness. The richness of the duck is balanced by the mildness of the lentils, while the chestnuts give it a slight sweet taste. The added elements- croutons, sauteed duck, cheese- provide a nice textural and flavorful counterpart to the thick bisque of the soup itself. Each bite tastes of luxury and the privilege that comes with being a Lannister of Casterly Rock.
The smoked duck is worth springing for, but we are now quite possibly addicted to it. Still, it makes for an absolutely mouthwatering soup that is the perfect cure for a cold, gloomy day.
“This evening they had supped on oxtail soup, summer greens tossed with pecans, grapes, red fennel, and crumbled cheese, hot crab pie, spiced squash, and quails drowned in butter. Each dish had come with its own wine. Lord Janos allowed that he had never eaten half so well.” (A Clash of Kings)
Fantastically seasonal, this menu item was a must make for October. The medieval recipe yielded tender pumpkin cubes that tasted remarkably similar to butternut squash. The stock in which the squash was cooked imbued it with an interesting savoriness that we didn’t expect. This recipe will surely make us think twice the next time we pass over the sugar pumpkin as a singularly sweet component.
Our modern acorn squash is New England Autumn in a dish. The appearance of the squash itself screams Fall, and the flavorful sauce completes the package. Tender, sweet, and spicy, this recipe is one for the Thanksgiving table.
“I never eat prunes myself. Well, there was one time when Hobb chopped them up with chestnuts and carrots and hid them in a hen. Never trust a cook, my lord. They’ll prune you when you least expect it.” (DwD)
So, as soon as we learned about black chickens, we knew we had to try one. However, we didn’t realize that ours came with a head. Or with giant dinosaur feet. This made the preparation of the meal something of an adventure, and we mean the kind where it’s sort of unpleasant. We rolled up our sleeves, though, and soldiered on. The only solution was to cut that bird up until it looked like the sort of chicken we know and love, and so it stopped staring at us.
Eating this chicken is a strange experience. Your taste buds say “chicken!”, while your brain can’t quite get over the color. The texture of the meat is somehow reminiscent of turkey, with a richer flavor than one gets with regular chicken. There isn’t a great deal of meat on one of these birds, but what you do find is tasty. Thankfully, the stuffing is absolutely YUM. Each flavor gets its own sort of showcase in your mouth, and each provides a nice, different texture from the others.
Bottom Line? A nice recipe, but next time we’ll put the stuffing in a normal chicken.
“‘My uncle hasn’t eaten his pigeon pie.’ Holding the chalice one-handed, Joff jammed his other into Tyrion’s pie. ‘It’s ill luck not to eat the pie…” (Storm of Swords)
This makes for a rich, hearty meat pie. Pigeon meat is dark like duck, although not nearly so fatty. The silky texture of the meat is the real show stopper, wonderfully soft and tender, complimenting the light flaky pastry crust. Although we used the suggested spices from a medieval pigeon pie recipe, we made ours much the same as a chicken pot pie, so it oozes with vegetables and a creamy sauce. Because of the richness of the pigeon, a small slice will satisfy, and it’s best paired with additional sides. All in all, a delicious dish, and a wonderful new addition to our list of recipes.
However, as soon as we made this, we found an amazing medieval recipe for pigeon pie, with artichoke hearts, and bacon.
This too will happen. Stay tuned!
Yummy! Don’t choke on anything while you’re wolfing it down (particularly that Pigeon pie) this Thanksgiving! We’ll leave you with the Inn at the Crossroads tagline: “In the Game of Food you win, or you wash the dishes…“