Operation Winterfell dinner.

Originally posted December 2012.

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I originally wrote this post for the former Tuppershare site shortly after Christmas, but since I happen to be reposting it on the greatest day of the year – the return of HBO’s Game of Thrones – I thought it would only be fitting to freshen it up a bit.

For Christmas, Colin got me cookbook A Feast of Ice and Fire – the brainchild of two ladies who decided to combine their Game of Thrones fandom and enthusiasm for cooking and provide the rest of us nerds with a stellar collection of recipes from Martin’s neverending saga.

Within approximately 10 minutes of meeting me, you’d probably find out that I am a huge, huge fan of both the books and the TV series. I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time devising and mulling over different theories (RLJ, people, RLJ!), and argued about why Sansa Stark is an amazing character (and that the TV show’s writers need to stop doing her a disservice by writing her as a spoiled, selfish brat) until I’m blue in the face. I will ramble on ad nauseum about how the vast majority of characters have some combination of good and evil, and detailing the similarities between Cersei and Arya, and speculating about who really put the “amethyst” in … oh, wait, let’s keep this spoiler-free, for the kiddies. In short, I’m obsessed to the point of probably being a tremendous pain in the ass, and I’m totally fine with that. There are only about eight hours to go until the season three premiere, and I’m practically bouncing in my chair with excitement already.

 

Anyone who’s read the novels know that, in addition to being just plain kickass fantasy, they’re basically one-third food porn. I’m not entirely sure how many pages have been devoted to descriptions of crisp capon, lemon cakes, pork pies and thick stews — and booze, lots and lots of booze — but good lord, it would be a crime to not have a cookbook devoted to Westerosi cuisine.

The cookbook itself is wonderful — recipes are broken down by region, including excerpts from the novels including mentions of the dish, and many include both Medieval and modern variations of recipes. They also include suggestions for pairing drinks and side dishes, which is brilliant. The work these two women put into their experimentation is tremendous, and I am most appreciative of their efforts and successes. Hell, Martin wrote the introduction to the book — these ladies are pretty much my heroes. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who either enjoys the series, or cooking… or both. Like, y’know, me.

In short, Colin pretty much rules for getting me this perfect gift, and I can’t thank him enough — but I think he must have known he’d be reaping the benefits of his purchase for pretty much the rest of his life, and he got his first taste of it tonight, when I decided that it was necessary to re-create a Winterfell-esque dinner. What can I say? I love direwolves dogs and comfort food, and am incredibly excited about the possibility of taking fencing lessons (water dancers ftw) — of COURSE I was going to experiment with some dishes from the Westerosi north.

I just re-read that sentence, and good lord, I am a nerd.

I’m just rather upset that I didn’t take pictures during the meal prep. I was too preoccupied with Sam, who decided that his Labrador side was going to come out this evening and be incredibly needy, and chew on furniture and walls when I wouldn’t sit on the floor and coddle him. That, and I naturally had the bright idea to try and prepare four different recipes from the cookbook. Unfortunately, I only managed to take on three — sorry, baked apples, but you’ll just have to wait until it’s time for leftovers. In order to make this post happen, I actually assembled some leftovers on a plate and took pictures with my phone. Please excuse them. Not that my photography skills are all that stellar to begin with, but just…yeah.

Not to toot my own horn, but Operation Winterfell Dinner was a rousing success, even without the baked apples. It’s freezing up here, and with our roasted “aurochs” (aka beef), onions in gravy and mulled wine, the only thing missing from our living room was a drunken Greatjon Umber. We made up for it by watching an adorable Raising Hope rerun.

Roasted “aurochs” with leeks (Adapted slightly from A Feast of Ice and Fire)
Top round of beef or bison (about 3 lbs)
3 large leeks (white and light green parts only), rinsed thoroughly and cut into 1/4 inch slices
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 head of garlic, broken down into cloves and peeled
Fresh sage (can use fresh thyme, rosemary, bay, or combination of any of these)
Olive oil
Salt and ground black pepper
Beef broth, for basting (if needed)

*Note: The cookbook recipe also calls for Medieval black pepper sauce, which I had every intention of making until I realized I didn’t have any cider vinegar. Womp womp.

Preheat your oven to 400F.

Put your vegetables, garlic and herbs into a baking dish and drizzle with olive oil. Toss, to make sure everything gets coated. Drizzle olive oil over the beef, then season it with plenty of salt and pepper. Place the meat right on top of your vegetables.

Place the tray in the oven and cook for a little over an hour (a roast slightly over three pounds took about an hour and five minutes). I checked the roast about a half hour in to make sure the vegetables weren’t drying out. They looked a little parched, so I basted them with some beef broth, then did so again about 20 minutes later.

Remove from the oven and let it rest on a cutting board before slicing and serving.

Onions in gravy (Adapted from A Feast of Ice and Fire)
10 oz pearl onions
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 spring finely chopped sage
1 tsp dried thyme
1/3 cup apple cider (I used Woodchuck – the recipe didn’t specify whether or not a boozy or non-alcoholic cider was required, but the boozy cider was easier to find)
1 tbsp flour
roux (2 tbsp flour + 2 tbsp softened butter)
1 tsp corn starch, sifted
3 cups beef stock
Glug of sherry
Salt and pepper

So, if you couldn’t tell from the recipe, I had a bit of trouble making this gravy…well, gravy-ey. The cookbook does not call for a roux or corn starch, but my sauce was more of a broth than a gravy. I’m not sure if the three cups of beef stock was just too much, and it would have been thicker had I only used two cups, but using the roux and corn starch got me the consistency I desired.

Heat a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium high heat, then add honey, butter, herbs and about a handful of your onions. Stir, to coat your onions with butter and honey, and continue to cook until your onions turn golden brown. Add the cider to the pan in three “splashes,” making sure the liquid in the pan heats up before adding more.

Sprinkle flour over the pan and stir to make sure it fully incorporates into the gravy, then add your stock and the rest of your onions and bring to a simmer.

After about 5-10 minutes, you should be able to tell if you need to add a roux, or corn starch, or both to get your desired consistency. At the very end of simmering, add your sherry, season with salt and pepper and serve.

Happy name day eating, and dracarys!

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