Alistair’s… um… Dinner
Convincing Alistiar to name this dish took some doing. “This?” he scoffed. “It doesn’t even have proper ingredients, let alone a name.” By dint of considerable persuasion - and two bottles of Amaranthine Amber Ale - he at last conceded that it might, in fact, have ingredients, but only four. The onions, the meat, the bay leaf, and the cheese are obligatory. Everything else is subject to whim and availability.
"So, what do you call it when it’s ready?" I asked, trying a different tack.
"Um… dinner?" said the Grey Warden evasively.
"You don’t always call it that," I said. "I distinctly remember you mentioning Fereldan Lamb and Pea Stew. With a little imagination, that might be this dish."
"I was baiting Leliana," said he. "She was going on about souffles and all that fiddly Orlesian food. I thought she needed an example of homestyle Fereldan cuisine. Besides, we had lamb and peas that night. It was better than calling it ‘Slop a la Alistair’."
So, I thought about calling it “Slop a la Alistair,” but decided upon “Dinner” instead. It sounds less revolting. And if ever there was a recipe that tastes better than it sounds (or looks), it’s this one. Such as it is.
(proportions per pound of meat, which serves 4)
- 1 pound of minced beef, poultry, lamb, pork, or game
- 1 large onion
- 2 Tbsp fat (olive oil, butter, bacon drippings, etc)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 ½ cups liquid (broth, wine, ale, tomato juice, mushroom soaking liquid, etc)
- 2 or more cups vegetables (tomatoes, carrots, celery, turnips, mushrooms, more onions, etc)
- 1 tsp seasoning (garlic, salt, herbs, Worcestershire sauce, etc)
- 2 or more cups cooked starch (noodles, potatoes, peas, dumplings, barley, oats, millet, etc)
- 4 or more ounces strong, sharp cheese, grated
Brown the meat and onion in the fat, add the bay leaf, liquid, vegetables, and seasoning, and simmer until it starts tasting done or turns a uniform grey color, whichever occurs first. It may be necessary to add more liquid if it starts looking dry, but it shouldn’t be too soupy. Stir in the starch and cheese and continue stirring gently until the cheese disintegrates into the sauce. Serve with patriotic pride and crusty bread to mop up the gravy. Any combination of ingredients within the specified range will work, but beef, broth, tomatoes and mushrooms, Worcestershire sauce, noodles, and Cheddar are especially good.
The ale we drank complemented the meal nicely. Sadly, Amaranthine Amber Ale is unavailable anywhere outside Ferelden, but a bitter or India pale ale makes an acceptable substitute. Any beer or ale will do, really… or any other beverage. When it comes to food, Alistair isn’t picky, as long as there’s lots.
I…I must try this.