Warm and Hearty recipe for those winter nights
See also The Perfect Tavern
So, to set the scene, your brave knight/warriors/dragon-riders/mysterious travellers open the door of the "Prancing Pony" Inn, stamping their feet to shake loose snow and mud clinging to their boots.
"Shut the bloody door!"
"Sorry, love! Gandalf, close the door, you are letting the heat out."
"You shall not..."
"Oh, just shut it!"
"Ale and Stew, love? Something for your little friends?"
"What is the stew?"
"Mutton with bread."
"Perfect - seven of those please!"
"Can I show you my ring?"
"Dirty little man!"
Enjoying the local food is not uncommon in #fantasy and #period writing, but understanding why they enjoying the food is. Saying they dug into the hot bowl of food is one thing, but adding that "the welcoming scent of rosemary and garlic kissed their travel worn senses," adds another dimension. So, in that vein, here is rich stew that you can make with either beef or mutton and enjoy in your favourite fantasy tavern. I have done a nice big quantity, so invite lots of friends!
- 2 kg diced mutton or beef
- 1 smoked gammon hock
- 4 large onions
- 16 cloves garlic
- 20 medium carrots
- 4 medium Turnip
- 4 stalks celery
- 300 grams dried porcini mushrooms
- 2 bottles rough red wine (if your village is poor, use stock or a light wheat beer instead)
- 4 tbs goose fat
- Salt and Black Pepper
- Bunch French parsley
- Flour and butter for thickening. (optional)
Bouquet Garni made from:
- 2 sticks of rosemary
- small bunch fresh Thyme
- 2 Bay leaves
- small bunch of Marjoram
This is meant to be rough, warming tavern fare, so no ultra fine chopping please. You need a huge pot for this.
Chop up the onions, garlic and celery and fry slowly in the goose fat until soft and turning slowly brown. Take your time! Remove them from the pot and set aside.
Remove the gammon from the hock, chop up roughly and fry in the goose fat, but do not let it brown. Remove and set aside.
Now, in small batches, fry the mutton in the goose fat till nicely brown - you may need to up the heat a little. Then return everything else to the pan including any juices.
Add the carrots, turnips and dried mushrooms, all the wine, the bouquet garni and a bit of salt and pepper. Note, if your tavern is in a poor village, you probably want to use less mutton and more veg.
Add the hock bone, bring to the boil and then turn right down to a very, very gentle simmer. Put the lid on tightly and cook for a couple of hours or till the mutton is tender.
If you want the final stew to be thicker, remove some of the liquid into another pan, boil up and slowly add some beurre manie (equal qantities of butter and flour mixed to a paste) bit by bit till you get a thick sauce, then add that back into the stew. Up to you.
Finally, remove the hock and bouquet garni and add lots of chopped parsley.
Mix up and serve with rough homemade bread!
This sort of stew will keep warm by the fire, but make sure it does not dry out. You can always add a little water, stock, wine or even beer from time to time to keep it moist. It is a good argument whether people want to eat it when its at its freshest, or a bit later when it has cooked even longer.