Welcome back to another Thronesgiving feast hosted by The Gluttonous Geek! Last Thronesmas ended with the Queens of the World (Cersei Lannister, Daenerys Targaryen, Sansa Stark, Olenna Tyrell, Ellaria Sand, and Yara Greyjoy) heading to war over the Seven Kingdoms. This night they went to war…over our taste buds.
That’s right, each course of our feast was inspired by one of the pictured Queens, and first we’ll dine with the lady always first to jump into the fray. So for our first course, why don’t we start our Queensmoot in the Iron Islands with some Creamy Fish and Turnip Stew and Bacon Fat-Rosemary Hard Tack inspired by Asha/Yara Greyjoy?
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The Queen of the Iron Price
If you have not read the books by George R.R. Martin, you may be raising your eyebrow at this queen’s name. The producers of the HBO TV series renamed Asha, Theon Greyjoy’s sister, to Yara to prevent confusion between her and Osha the wildling. To avoid further confusion in those who have not yet caught up on page-abundant series known as A Song of Ice and Fire, I’ll be referring to her as Yara for the rest of this post. That aside, this lady is just as bada** in the books and she is in the show.
Yara is a natural leader born a woman in the most testosterone-worshipping patriarchal society in Westeros. As the only daughter among a band of dead or thought-dead brothers, she seeks to save and preserve a realm that would never let her rule. Theon’s residence in Winterfell already makes him dead in the eyes of their father, so it is up to her to pay the iron price and uphold the Greyjoy name in what little regard it has left.
One iconic scene you’ll remember from last season, though, is that of the Kingsmoot from A Feast for Crows. Very much in the Norse/Viking Tradition, the Iron Islands have a custom where in times that primogeniture fails, potential new leaders make their bid through boasting and presentation of gifts. In the books and show, the various suitors make boasts of taking back the Iron Islands and its surrounding fiefdoms, including all of Westeros — as well as present resplendent gifts of precious metals and slaves squandered from the mainland.
Yara, however, presents them with a bag of turnips and pinecones. She says that this is all that the surrounding fiefdoms have to offer in exchange for the blood of her people. With this act, she openly challenges the cultural hubris that endangers a society that refuses to sow. She understands humility may cost her the Driftwood Crown, but that it is absolutely necessary to survive.
Turnips and Pinecones
So for this Yara Greyjoy-inspired recipe, I wanted to capture her moment from the Kingsmoot in a soup course for this year’s Thronesgiving. I adapted a traditional Norwegian Fiskesuppe recipe to make a creamy fish stew worthy of the Iron Islands.
For some Scandinavian flavor, I opted to use fresh salmon fillets and fried them in some olive oil. Normally this recipe would require you to poach them, but I wanted to get a good, crispy skin to add some interesting texture.
Like the Queensmoot, I raided some root vegetables – turnips, carrots, and leeks – from the nearest Publix. Though the latter two aren’t mentioned in the books, their ability to keep well for long voyages makes them likely to be aboard Yara’s vessels. I feel that the turnips add an earthy, underlying sweetness through the foam of milky and balances nicely with the salty fish stock. If you don’t feel like making your own fish stock (I know I didn’t), I’ve included an affiliate link for fish stock bouillon cubes that you can order on Amazon. If you want to get crazy as I did, you can also add a good splash of Kraken Rum for a little extra spiced-sweetness.
Speaking of keeping well, what’s the point of stew if you don’t have any travel bread to sop up the remaining rich broth? Sure, yeah, any roll could do. However, if you know me or have been reading this blog, you’d know I don’t do anything simply. So in keeping with the pinecones from Yara’s Queensmoot, I made up some bacon fat-based hard tack with fresh, piney rosemary. Don’t have any bacon grease ready to go? Fry up some bacon, drain the grease into a clean jar, then refrigerate until you’re ready to use it.
Combined together, Yara’s dishes just about won this Queensmoot of a Thronesgiving. She struck a very close tie with the recipe inspired by the Mother of Dragons, in fact. I will let you come to your own conclusions, of course, as we continue our culinary journey through this season. In the meantime, stay tuned for next week’s post featuring salad and side courses inspired by Olenna Tyrell and Ellaria Sand!
A Queensmoot of Flavor
Queensmoot Bacon Fat & Rosemary Hard Tack
Equipment: Oven, baking sheets, pastry blender or kitchen shears, mixing bowl, rolling pin, 3″ biscuit cutter
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup cold bacon grease
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh rosemary
- Preheat the oven to 450° F.
- Whisk together all the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl so that it is all incorporated.
- Cut the cold bacon grease into the flour. If you have a pastry blender, use a rocking motion with the blender, and tap it against the side to release the mix from the blades. You can also use a pair of kitchen shears or two butter knives in a scissor-like motion to cut the fat into the dry ingredients. Blend until the mix resembles bread crumbs.
- Stir in the milk with a spatula, turning the mixture and pressing until it absorbs the liquid and forms a dough that pulls away from the side of the bowl.
- Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead 3-5 times or until smooth.
- Roll the dough until it is 1/2″ thick. Lightly flour the edges of the biscuit cutter and cut out rounds of dough. Place rounds on an ungreased baking sheet. Press the leftover trimmings together and repeat the process until you run out.
- Bake the rounds in the oven 8-10 minutes until the hard tack is golden. Cool 5 minutes before serving, or place in a bowl and cover with a clean dishcloth to keep warm.
Queensmoot Fish & Turnip Stew
Equipment: Stovetop, large skillet with tall sides, tongs, spatula.
- 2 lbs salmon fillets
- 2 turnips, peeled and diced
- 2 carrots, peeled, quartered, and diced
- 2 leeks, white parts sliced into half moons
- 2 cubes fish bouillon
- 4 cups water
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup Kraken or spiced rum (optional)
- olive oil
- kosher salt
- Make the fish stock by heating up the water in a separate container using a tea kettle or microwave. Add the bouillon cubes, stir, and let sit while you are preparing the other ingredients.
- Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in the skillet. Pat both sides of each salmon fillet dry with paper towels and season liberally with kosher salt. Place the fillets skin-side down into the skillet when the oil starts to slightly smoke.
- Allow the fillets to cook, and crisp the skin for five minutes. Flip the fillets with a spatula to cook another two minutes. Transfer the fish to a cutting board to rest. Pour in the turnips and carrots and reduce the heat to medium low.
- Saute the vegetables for about ten minutes, then stir in the leeks, rum, and butter. When the butter has melted, mix the flour in fully and cook another minute. Pour in the fish stock and bring to a simmer for 20-30 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
- Pour in the milk and cream and allow to cook on low for another five minutes before turning off the heat. Ladle soup into serving bowls. Slice the salmon into 1-inch, bite size pieces and distribute among the bowls before serving.