Cooking With Katniss: Rich Meals For The Starving Masses
Allegations O.D. can resist no longer and is jumping on The Hunger Games bandwagon. Consistent with its title, The Hunger Games devotes a great deal of time to discussing food. This is appropriate, since many of its characters are on the brink of starvation and feeding themselves is their highest priority. Constantly, its characters are hunting game, cooking game, foraging, baking or otherwise looking for or preparing or eating food.
*Full disclosure: I have not seen the movie, although I did read the book last weekend. You should assume further references in this post are referring to the book, as I have no idea how much of it made it into the movie.
So, we are pleased to feature a recipe excerpted from “The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook: From Lamb Stew to “Groosling.” This is recipe is the aforementioned lamb stew, known as “Katniss’s Favorite Lamb Stew With Dried Plums.” For those of you living under a rock for the last month, “Katniss” refers to Katniss Everdeen, the resourceful heroine of the story who spends her days in the downtrodden “District 12” foraging and hunting squirrels and other game to feed her family. Through a series of circumstances,Katniss ends up as a contestant in The Hunger Games, which is sort of like “Survivor” except that the contestants’ only goal is to brutally murder every other contestant, sort of a reality show boiled down to its essence. At any rate, before the games begin, the contestants are all shuttled to “The Capitol,” which is where the 1% live in luxury, safe from the 99% starving in the other districts. There, the contestants live in opulence for several days, before they are taken to the game zone and start killing each other for the entertainment of the masses. One of the first dishes that Katniss is served in the Capitol is this lamb stew with dried plums (i.e., prunes). Having lived off squirrel meat and dandelions her whole life, Katniss devours it and eats it repeatedly during her brief stay in the Capitol. The prunes have the added benefit of keeping her very regular, which may or may not be a benefit in the kill zone. The book does not dwell on such details so I leave it to the reader to decide.
Katniss’s Favorite Lamb Stew With Dried Plums
Yield 8-10 servings
- 5 pounds lamb fillet, shoulder or leg, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large onion, chopped
- ½ cup water
- 4 cups beef stock
- 2 teaspoons white sugar
- 3 teaspoons brown sugar
- 3 cups diced carrots
- 1 cup diced zucchini
- 1½ cups diced celery
- 2 large onions, diced
- 3 potatoes, cubed
- 5 cups dried plums
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 3 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup ginger ale
- Place lamb, salt, pepper, and flour in a large mixing bowl. Toss to coat meat evenly.
- Heat olive oil in a large pan and brown the meat, working in batches if you have to.
- Remove lamb to a side plate. Pour off fat, leaving ¼ cup in the pan. Add the garlic and onion and sauté until the onion becomes golden. Deglaze frying pan with the ½ cup water, taking care to scrape the bottom of the pan to stir up all of the tasty bits of meat and onion. Cook to reduce liquid slightly, then remove from heat.
- Place the lamb and garlic-onion mixture in a large stockpot. Add beef stock and sugar, stirring until sugars are dissolved. Bring mixture to a boil, cover, and simmer for 1½ hours.
- Add the vegetables, dried plums, herbs, and ginger ale to the pot. Simmer for 30-45 minutes, or until meat and vegetables pierce easily with a fork.
At any rate, the recipe appears to be a straight forward and not overly fussy braised lamb recipe, with the added sweetness of the plums/prunes. I confess that I have not yet made it as I am involved in another large cooking project this weekend which I hope to post about later. My only notes are that you may want to add the plums/prunes earlier than the recipe says, to give them time to break down and contribute a nice texture and color to the braise. Also, I would suggest you might brown all the vegetables before you add the liquid, then add them in later if you worried about overcooking them. Finally, I am dubious about the addition of ginger ale at the end of the process, but I’m willing to try it. Also – this will make a lot of stew.
Apparently there is whole cottage industry of unofficial cookbooks based off various beloved series, e.g. Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, etc. I don’t remember much eating or cooking in Star Wars except for this scene:
Aunt Beru represent! So perhaps there is more exploring to be done in this area.