Dr. Who: Last Centurion Lamb Stew with Polenta Pandoricas

pandoricaheader
Today’s recipe is inspired by Dr. Who‘s Revived Series Season 5 Finale episodes The Pandorica Opens and The Big Bang. Throughout these episodes, the Doctor mentions how if something can be remembered, it can brought back. Nothing truly is forgotten.

**SPOILER ALERT**

Now the points that struck me the most on these episode are the power of memory in granting immortality, and how much that memory is born from love itself. The details gleaned from Amy’s memories to entrap the Doctor are all things that she loves – whether it’s stories of Roman occupation (or the “Invasion of Hot Italians” as she refers to it), Greek Mythology and Pandora’s Box, and the almost forgotten Rory. It is also love that brings back Amy and Rory’s memory of each other, and lets him keep his mind when the rest of the Roman legion turns. Love drives Rory to patiently wait and remain vigilant by the Pandorica’s side for two-thousand years until Amy can be revived. Memories the Doctor planted in Amy’s mind, out of love, brings him back.

**END SPOILER ALERT**

I will reiterate that as long as there are those who have love to remember it, nothing is truly forgotten. So for this recipe, I wanted to re-create something from history, and re-imagine it with something from my past that I love. Thankfully historians have taken care to preserve and translate the Apicius, a collection of Ancient Roman recipes. Take this one, for example:

Apicius (8.6.2–3):

  • ALITER HAEDINAM SIVE AGNINAM EXCALDATAM: mittes in caccabum copadia. cepam, coriandrum minutatim succides, teres piper, ligusticum, cuminum, liquamen, oleum, vinum. coques, exinanies in patina, amulo obligas. (Aliter haedinam sive agninam excaldatam) agnina a crudo trituram mortario accipere debet, caprina autem cum coquitur accipit trituram.
  • HOT KID OR LAMB STEW. Put the pieces of meat into a pan. Finely chop an onion and coriander, pound pepper, lovage, cumin, liquamen, oil, and wine. Cook, turn out into a shallow pan, thicken with wheat starch. If you take lamb you should add the contents of the mortar while the meat is still raw, if kid, add it while it is cooking.

Now obviously I’m not going to be completely authentic. For one, I’d have to make my own liquamen (and I don’t want to). Secondly, I’d have a better chance of meeting the Doctor himself than finding fresh lovage in an American grocery store. Though if Matt Smith showed up at my doorstep with a handful of the stuff, I would not argue, though I’d probably still wonder how he got it through customs. For reminiscence of the Pandorica, this stew will be cooked in a crock pot or pressure cooker (you can even sit next to it the whole time for the Real Rory Williams Experience™, though I wouldn’t recommend it).

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Anticipation….Anti-ci-paaa-tion….

Finally a little something from my own history, this stew will have a goat cheese and plum jam stuffed pocket of mămăligă at the center of the bowl.

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Behold its warm-cheesy-wibbly-wobbly decadence…

Mămăligă is a porridge from traditional Romanian peasant cuisine very similar to polenta (its cooking method is actually Roman in origin). My grandmother taught me how to make it, and I’ve adapted it to be reminiscent of the Pandorica, but also to add a sweet and creamy center to the dish.

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I believe the appropriate term right now should be “Noms”

Last Centurian Stew with Polenta Pandoricas

Serves 4

Equipment:
Pressure Cooker or Crock Pot, Skillet (if using a crock pot), medium saucepan, spatula or wooden spoon, small dishes.

Cook time:
4 hours – Pressure Cooker
8 hours – Crock Pot

Stew Ingredients

  • 2 lbs lamb, cubed
  • whole wheat flour
  • olive oil
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 2 cups beef broth or stock
  • 2-3 plums, sliced
  • 1 medium or large sweet or yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 very large white mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 heaping Tbs minced garlic
  • 1 rib celery, minced
  • 2 carrots sliced
  • several dashes fish sauce
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

Stew Instructions

  1. Coat the lamb on all sides with the whole wheat flour. Reserve the leftover flour.
  2. Heat up the skillet with some olive oil (or in the pot of your pressure cooker on the sauté setting). Add lamb and cook until browned on all sides. Remove and reserve.
  3. Add vegetables to skillet or pot and cook for about 8-10 minutes.
  4. In a separate measuring cup or bowl, mix broth, wine, and the reserved flour (plus a little extra if you prefer a thicker stew) until no lumps remain.
  5. Add all ingredients to the pressure cooker pot or crock pot. Cook on low for four hours on a pressure cooker, and 8 hours on a crock pot.

“Pandorica” Ingredients

  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 and 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup goat cheese crumbles
  • 1-2 Tbs plum jam
  • sour cream

“Pandorica” Instructions

  1. Heat water in saucepan over high heat. When it boils rapidly, add salt and butter.
  2. When butter has melted, stir in 1 Tbs of cornmeal.
  3. When the water starts to boil again, pour in the rest of the cornmeal and stir with wooden spoon or spatula quickly in the same direction to prevent lumps from forming.
  4. When the mixture begins to bubble, turn the heat down low and keep stirring.
  5. When the mixture has thickened to the point where it forms a ball and no longer sticks to the pan, turn off the stove and remove the pan from heat.
  6. Mix up goat cheese and plum jam in a separate bowl.
  7. Distribute a small spatula-ful of polenta between four small bowls so each is about half way full, shape a depression in each one.
  8. Distribute the goat cheese mixture into each depression, cover and seal with the remaining polenta.
  9. Let sit and cool for about 2 minutes before flipping into each main bowl.
  10. Ladle in stew surrounding each polenta pocket and garnish with a dollop of sour cream and herbs you’d like.
  11. Serve.

The Gluttonous Geek