On Sunday, the highly anticipated premiere of Game of Thrones season four will air on HBO. As fans look forward to the return of the show’s classic action and drama, they also have another aspect to look forward to: the food.
It’s hard not to notice the elaborate feasts and interesting dishes being enjoyed by the characters in the series. It adds something to the atmosphere of the show that has been important to the story’s setting well before Game of Thrones made the move to TV.
“Food plays a recurring role in the books of A Song of Ice and Fire. Characters are constantly chatting and plotting over a meal. The really big feasts tend to involve major confrontations,” Alan Kistler, author of The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook, told That’s Nerdalicious.
Kistler’s cookbook features over 150 recipes inspired by George R. R. Martin’s fantasy series. Each of the recipes includes a description of the scene it is from and a discussion of the setting, characters, or themes. The cookbook also specifies in which book and chapter the food can be found which is fun for any literary geek who wants to enjoy dishes by their corresponding novel. The good thing is all this information avoids spoilers, so you can try anything without worrying about ruining the story if you’re not caught up yet.
Featuring everything from appetizers to desserts, the cookbook has just what you need if you’re planning to throw a delicious Game of Thrones party for the premiere. After the break, find five fantastic recipes you can try along with insight and tips from Kistler!
When Kistler was deciding what food from the series to create for the cookbook, he said almost every mention of food in the books became a basis for a recipe.
“Tyrion mentions wanting a leg of lamb, that becomes a recipe. I also tried to connect the meals emotionally to the characters and scenes that were involved when they appear in the book,” Kistler said. “Sansa loves lemon cakes, but Arya has a moment where she thinks of the same food and they symbolize a sense of home that she misses. So that recipe became ‘Arya’s Lemon Cakes’ rather than ‘Sansa’s Lemon Cakes,’ because of the deeper meaning it had for the younger Stark child, beyond ‘ooh, tasty.’”
Naturally, the difficulty of developing the actual recipes depended on how much they were described in the books. If it was described in detail, Kistler would work off that. If it was just a basic mention it would require research. He even put fun twists on things mentioned in the book, like turning poisons into mixed drinks.
Luckily his hard work has paid off for foodie Thrones fans and resulted in a cookbook that offers endless ideas for anyone who wants to prepare a feast when their friends come over to watch Game of Thrones. For such an occasion, Kistler has two tips for making it fun for you and your fellow fans.
“I think it’s really fun to focus on the dishes that lend well to sharing. Or you can have some fun food rivalry by deciding that some of you will do dishes associated with one family and others of your party will bring in dishes associated with another family. In the back of the book, I arranged a list of the recipes that divides them by region/House, etc,” he said.
As you decide on the exact angle for your party, we have some ideas for what you can make to help you get started. Here are five tasty recipes for a whole meal from The Unofficial Game of Thrones cookbook.
Baratheon Boar Ribs with Apple
A king has the luxury of being able to order what he wishes, and after a vigorous hunt it’s understandable that he would want a fine boar to consume. While he rides alongside the son he can’t quite relate to, King Robert makes sure to demand that such a meal will be ready for him and his knights upon their return. The poor boar, however, is not unlike the rotund king who has seen better days before seeming so tempting of a target for his enemies. (A Game of Thrones, Chapter 8—Bran)
1 fennel bulb, core and brown parts removed, chopped
1 tart apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
½ cup white wine
1 tablespoon butter
½ teaspoon caraway seeds
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup sour cream (optional)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
½ cup celery, finely chopped
2 tablespoons onion, minced
1 apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
2 teaspoons dried rosemary or 2 tablespoons fresh, chopped
½ cup dry bread crumbs or stuffing mix
4 double-thick boar or pork rib chops (7–8 ounces each)
8 wooden toothpicks, soaked in water for ½ hour
1. Cook the fennel and apple in the wine, covered, for about 20 minutes. Be sure to keep it wet by adding liquid as needed. Don’t let it dry out.
2. When the fennel and apple are very soft, add the butter, caraway seeds, salt and pepper, and sour cream. Stir lightly; then remove from heat. Set aside.
3. Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the celery, onion, apple, and rosemary. Cook about 2 minutes; then mix in the bread crumbs or stuffing mix.
4. Fill the pockets of the chops with the bread-crumb mixture, securing openings with toothpicks.
5. Set the grill to medium and brown chops over direct heat.
6. Place on indirect heat, cover, and grill for 15 minutes per side. Internal temperature should reach 145°F. Spoon some fennel sauce onto each chop before serving.
*A Word of Wisdom
You can either parboil the ribs for 20 minutes, or grill them over indirect heat for about 35 minutes before adding the sauce. Make extra and it will keep in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.
Common Pease Porridge
At times, Tyrion rather enjoys just how much people underestimate him due to his stature and appearance. He can seem as unassuming as a dish of Common Pease Porridge, when he’s actually moving his pawns through the game of life, cornering enemies and their agents with a smile. Like Tyrion, this pease porridge shouldn’t be taken lightly: this classic variation of pea soup can come quite close to beating back the push of cold, Northern winds..at least for a while. (A Clash of Kings, Chapter 17—Theon)
6 strips bacon, diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
3 large carrots, peeled
1 large sweet onion, peeled and diced
2 cups dried split peas, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed
2 cups chicken broth
3 cups water
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
1 smoked ham hock
4 ounces smoked sausage or ham, diced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Add the bacon and celery to the slow cooker; cover and cook on high while you prepare the carrots. Grate half of one of the carrots and dice the remaining carrots. Add the grated carrot and diced onion to the slow cooker; stir to mix them in with the bacon and celery. Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes or until the onions are transparent.
2. Add the diced carrots, split peas, broth, water, potatoes, ham hock, and smoked sausage or ham to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or until the peas are soft.
3. Use a slotted spoon to remove the ham hock; remove the meat from the bone and set aside. Mash peas until smooth then return ham to porridge. Alternately, add ham directly into porridge and puree until smooth with an immersion blender. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed.
*A Word of Wisdom
Because the sodium content in the broth and meats can affect the flavor, wait until the soup is cooked and, when you taste it for seasoning, add salt if needed.
Arya’s Lemon Cakes
Despite her youth, Arya is one of the most strong-willed and determined characters when we first meet her. But as her sister Sansa is aware, the youngest Stark girl does have one weakness: lemon cakes. Just a mention of them can distract the free-spirited Arya from her impulse to defy orders and conventions—if only for a few moments. To Arya, the cakes represent happy times at home, something worth selling street-caught pigeons for when times are tough. (A Game of Thrones, Chapter 15—Sansa)
Makes 10–12 small cakes
1½ cups warm milk
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1¾ teaspoons active dry yeast (1 package)
¼ teaspoon lemon verbena oil or lemon extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons dried lemon verbena, crushed
1. In a large bowl, mix milk, sugar, and yeast. Set aside for about 10 minutes, until foamy.
2. Mix in egg, lemon verbena oil, 1 tablespoon of the butter, salt, flour, and dried lemon verbena. Beat together 5 minutes until a smooth dough is formed.
3. Cover with plastic wrap and rise in a warm spot for about 1½ hours (until doubled in volume).
4. Heat griddle over high heat. Test by sprinkling on a little water. If griddle sizzles and water evaporates, it’s ready.
5. Lower heat to medium-low. Melt remaining tablespoon of butter on the griddle. Place muffin rings on griddle and fill halfway with batter. Cover loosely with foil and cook until cakes are browned on the bottom, about 5 minutes.
6. Using spatula or tongs, flip over each small cake and ring. Cover and cook another 5 minutes. Serve warm.
*A Word of Wisdom
Muffin or crumpet rings will keep your cakes thicker and compact. If you don’t have any handy, you can cut open both ends of short, metal food cans—like those used to pack tuna. Remove the labels and wash them very thoroughly. When you’re ready to make lemon cakes, flour the inside well then use them instead of muffin rings.
Pentoshi Mushrooms in Butter and Garlic
Even when he fears that he is being led into a trap and that the dish before him may be poisoned, Tyrion cannot help but acknowledge his desire for just a taste of it. The mushrooms before him glistening with butter and smelling of garlic make his mouth water, and it’s no wonder. Poisoned or not, this savory dish would tempt just about anyone. (A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 1—Tyrion)
4 large portobello mushrooms with stems
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, divided
4 large white onions, finely chopped
10 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup arborio rice
5 cups vegetable stock or water
2 tablespoons grated imported Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 bunch scallions, finely chopped
Scented olive oil, such as truffle oil, garlic oil, or herb oil (or very good extra-virgin olive oil)
1. Finely chop the stems of the mushrooms. Set the caps aside. In a large saucepan, melt 5 tablespoons of the butter, and sauté the onions and garlic over medium heat until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the chopped mushroom stems, and saute a minute longer. Season with salt.
2. Add the rice. Stir well to coat, then add 1 cup of stock and stir until the liquid is mostly absorbed. Add another cup of stock, stirring constantly, and allow the rice to absorb it. Continue adding stock cup by cup, until all liquid is used and rice is tender, but still a little firm to the bite in the middle (about 25 minutes). Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon butter and the cheese, and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set aside.
3. Slice the portobello caps paper-thin. Divide risotto into 4 bowls, immediately sprinkle with the shaved portobellos, and garnish with scallions and a drizzle (about 2 teaspoons) of truffle oil (or other flavored oil).
*A Word of Wisdom
Need to know your mushrooms? Creminis are just young portobellos; both are nutty, and gourmand favorites. Fluted oyster mushrooms have a more subtle flavor. Any young mushroom can be called a button, but chefs usually reserve the name for the white button variety. White mushrooms are simply button mushrooms with the caps fully opened.
Tears of Lys
The deadliest and stealthiest of all poisons, tears of Lys is as rare as it is untraceable—the perfect choice for the discerning assassin. This cocktail isn’t quite as lethal as its namesake, but is doubtless a poison worth picking. Cachaça is the perfect spirit for the job: not only is it made from fermented sugarcane juice; home distillers can formulate blindingly strong batches that are more potent than whiskeys and vodkas. The lime hints at its exotic and mysterious origins, and simple syrup further belies this drink’s dark purpose. One sip can erase any lingering doubts about why it so easily catches its victims off-guard… (A Game of Thrones, Chapter 30, Eddard)
Makes 1 lethal serving
1 lime, quartered
1 teaspoon simple syrup, purchased or made by dissolving 1 part sugar in
1 part warm water and cooling
2 ounces cachaca or white Rum
1. Place a lime wedge and the simple syrup in an old-fashioned glass and muddle well.
2. Add the cachaca and stir well.
3. Fill the glass with ice and stir again.
*A Word of Wisdom
Not every drink is best served with muddled fruit and ice. If you prefer a clear, unadulterated cocktail, mix the whole drink in a Boston shaker, shake to combine, and strain the liquid out into your glass. Purists may argue that shaking “bruises” the spirit, but what’s a little bruising between poisoners?
Excerpted from The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook by Alan Kistler. Copyright © 2012 F+W Media, Inc. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved. Photos courtesy of Adams Media.