Game of Thrones: Sister’s Stew


Like just about everyone else, I’ve become a leetle bit obsessed  with the Game of Thrones over the last 10 weeks or so.  While I’ve read the first two of George R. R. Martin’s seven book series (leaving me roughly equal with the HBO TV seasons), I’m reluctant to read on for fear of spoiling Season Three. I doubt my self-control will hold out the entire year before the next instalments screen, but for now I’m holding out. In the meantime though, I bought A Feast of Fire and Ice:The Official Game of Thrones Companion Cookbook, and am absolutely hanging out to have a GoT-themed dinner party.

A quick summary of the story for those who have been in a coma for the past couple of years: Game of Thrones is a lush fantasy series  partially modelled on England during the Wars of the Roses, with the Stark and Lannister families standing in for the Yorks and Lancasters. The story of these two families and their struggle to control the Iron Throne dominates the foreground; in the background is a huge, ancient wall marking the northern border, beyond which barbarians, ice vampires, and direwolves menace the south as years-long winter advances. Abroad, a dragon princess lives among horse nomads and dreams of fiery reconquest. I’m not big on fantasy novels but I am a complete history geek, and I love big fat novels that last forever, so this series ticks all the boxes for me. Add in a top-quality tv production by HBO and I’m in.

The cookbook, which has been put together by fans Chelsea Munroe-Cassel and Sariann Lehrer, provides original medieval and historic recipes for the dishes mentioned in the books, along with modern updates, all divided into the Seven Lands that make up the GoT landscape.  The pair started out with a blog called Inn at the Crossroads, which in itself is extraordinary. But the cookbook is amazing – gorgeously photographed, brilliantly researched and recipes which are clear and easy to follow.

My first experiment was Sister’s Stew – a saffrony seafood stew served in rustic bread bowls. The dish comes from The South section of the cookbook and would be a fantastic dinner party main. I even made the bread bowls in which to serve it! The slightly adulterated recipes follow after the jump.

“The beer was brown, the bread black, the stew a creamy white. She served it in a trencher hollowed out of a stale loaf. It was thick with leeks, carrots, barley and turnips white and yellow, along with clams and chunks of cod and crabmeat, swimming in a stock of heavy cream and butter. It was the sort of stew that warmed a man right down to his bones, just the thing for a wet, cold night.”

-A Dance with Dragons (Book 5 of the series) by George R. R. Martin

Sister’s Stew

  • 680 g cod or firm white fish, cut into chunks
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 big leeks (white and light green parts only), well-washed and chopped
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup white wine
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley, soaked for at least 1 hour in warm water
  • 1 medium turnip, diced
  • 1 cup thickened cream
  • 1/2 tsp crumbled saffron threads
  • 700ml evaporated milk (I cut this back to 1 x 400g tin of evaporated milk, but in hindsight I shouldn’t have  … my stew could have had more delicious liquid to soak into the bread bowl).
  • 1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 cup crabmeat
  • 1 cup prawns (replacing the original recipe’s 1/2 cup clam meat, which I didn’t have).
  • Parsley and rustic bread cobs to serve. The cookbook also contains a recipe for Black Bread, which is perfect, and which I’ll post separately).
  1. Place 230g of the white fish in a pot with 2 cups water. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes. Then remove the fish with a slotted spoon and set aside for later. Keep the water, as this is your fish stock.
  2. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter and sauté the leeks, carrots and garlic over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender but not brown – about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the wine and increase the heat, bringing the pot to the boil. Add in the fish and chicken or vegetable stock, thyme, salt, pepper, barley and turnips. Cook for about 20 minutes, or until the turnips are tender.
  4. Warm the cream in a small saucepan – it should not even simmer – then rub the saffron threads into it until the cream turns a nice golden colour.
  5. Stir the cream and evaporated milk into the broth and turnip mixture.
  6. Add the remaining chunks of fish (both raw and cooked), the crab, and the clams or prawns.
  7. Cover and cook on medium low for 5-8 minutes, or until the fish is opaque.
  8. Spoon into hollowed out bread cobs, and top tim chopped herbs (I used parsley but fresh thyme leaves would also be good).

Black Bread

Makes 2 loaves.

  • 2-and-1/4 tsp dry yeast (1 pkt)
  • 700ml dark beer such as stout or porter, warm
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 4-5 cups of mixed flour (the recipe recommends 2 cups white flour, 2 cups rye and 1/2 cup wholemeal)
  1. In a small bowl, add the yeast and honey to the beer and allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes until foamy.
  2. Add the beaten egg to the wet ingredients, then begin adding in the mixed flour, one cup at a time. The ideal consistency for the dough is when it forms one cohesive mass.
  3. At this point, flour your work surface and turn the dough out for kneading. Using form motions, knead the dough for about 5 minutes, until it bounces back when poked. Or, if you’re as lazy as I am, throw the dough into a stand mixer for kneading.
  4. Cover the dough with  clean dish towel or plastic wrap and let it rise for at least one hour. It was cold when I made my bread, so I actually left it for 3 hours in a warm room, by which time it had doubled in size.
  5. Punch down the dough, then replace the towel and let it rise again for at least 2 more hours.
  6. Preheat the oven to 220°.
  7. Form the dough into two loaves, dust lightly with flour. If you’re not using the bread for bowls, lightly slash the tops in a decorative pattern. If you are, then there’s not really any point because you’ll be cutting the tops of anyway. In the latter case, rough and rustic finish is best.
  8. Bake for about 25 minutes or until the crust is nicely browned, then let it stand for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Cooks Note: If you’re going to use the bread for bowls, let them cool completely before cutting off the top and hollowing them out.

This is a pretty dense bread, so you can afford to go closer to the edge than I did … I was a bit nervous that my stew would leak everywhere and was overly cautious -I think it spoiled the final result a little bit. 

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~ by swalloworspit on June 19, 2012.

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