That’s right, each course of our feast was inspired by one of the pictured Queens. Last week we examined the relationship between Dorne and Highgarden with Olenna Tyrell’s Rose & Redwyne Vinaigrette Salad and Ellaria Sand’s Spiced Orange and Fig Cous Cous. This week we’ll be dining with the Mother of Dragons on Daenerys Targaryen’s Spiced Lamb with Lemony Olive Tapenade.
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Mother of Dragons, Queen of the World
Daenerys Targaryen has been through a lot. Yes, I’m very aware that’s the understatement of the year along with “Dragonfire is hot” and “Winter is Coming”. Don’t believe me? Why don’t I just let her tell you:
“I spent my life in foreign lands. So many men have tried to kill me; I don’t remember all of their names. I’ve been sold like a broodmare. I’ve been chained and betrayed, raped and defiled. Do you know what kept me standing through all those years in exile? Faith. Not in any gods. Not in myths and legends. In myself. In Daenerys Targaryen. The world hadn’t seen a dragon in centuries until my children were born. The Dothraki hadn’t crossed the sea, any sea, until me. I was born to rule the Seven Kingdoms — and I will.”
The majesty that is Daenerys was born in the storms of Dragonstone, raised in exile in Braavos, groomed in the silken cage of Pentos, forged in the fires of her husband’s funeral pyre, and sharpened by the years conquering parts of Essos. The life of this Khaleesi certainly fits her family name, a name singing of blood and fire.
No one will argue that Dany has the power to shape and rule the world, but it is only because the world shaped and ruled her. She struggles to walk the line between cultural expectation and her conscience, and dragons have never been all that great at walking. It is not easy for her to tell when one should accept humility and the advice of her peers, or when to trust her own mind and instincts. Though she is still learning, her efforts rally a following of people whom would never otherwise work with each other to travel and fight in places they would never otherwise go.
Lamb and Lemons
That said, I wanted to make a dish that reflects the people and places that made Daenerys who she is. I started with a lamb rib roast since the Lhazareen (or “Lamb Men” ) were among the people Khal Drogo conquered. They also brought an end to Dany’s comfortable time with the Dothraki when their priestess killed her Son and Moon of her Life.
I then made a simple spice rub of kosher salt and garam masala to recall Dany’s journey across Qarth, Yunkai, Astapor, and Meereen. These cities share aesthetic, historical, and cultural similarities with the Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian regions along medieval spice routes. I figured that garam masala would be a good choice since while every blend is a little different, the spices (pepper, clove, bay, cumin, coriander. cardamom, etc.) all originate from various areas on the route. The blend, like Dany, is the product of a long-traveled journey.
Since I had limited oven space in my six-course meal, I opted to cook the lamb using my sous vide machine. Cooking it this way is useful if you have many other dishes on the menu. Once the meat reached the correct temperature, you can let it sit in the water until you are ready to sear and serve. My husband was more than happy to take a torch to it while I was working on other dishes (though a hot skillet will also do). I wrote oven instructions in case you’re not ready to drop the cash on a new gadget. I’ve also included an affiliate link to my machine, though, if you change your mind.
I leave it up to you if you want to roast it or give it a very hot bath. Both are appropriate to this character, I’d imagine.
Finally, to hearken to Daenerys’s origins, I made a lemony olive tapenade to accompany the lamb. After her birth, Dany lived most of her childhood in Braavos in a large house with a red door. Her favorite room had a window overlooking a lemon tree. The inspiration behind the free cities of Bravos and Pentos borrows heavily from Mediterranean culture. More importantly, the Targaryens descend from Valyria — a high fantasy version of Ancient Greece and Rome.
Documents of olive based tapenades date back before its name’s inception thousands of years ago in Roman cookbooks. I chose to adapt one type “Epityrum“ (meaning “over cheese” which was a serving suggestion) that utilizes parsley and mint.
I specifically used Italian Castelvetrano olives for their inherent butteriness, and have included an affiliate link at the bottom for your convenience. One thing I can say about this dip, though, it makes a great condiment for brats and sandwiches if you have any leftovers. Also smashing the pits out of olives makes for great stress relief after a long day of sacking slaver ships.
All and all, this recipe was deceptively easy. Don’t be too daunted by the ingredient list or the instructions below. This culinary journey rewards those willing to take the first step.
A Roast of Spice and Fire
Daenerys Targaryen's Garam Masala Lamb and Lemony Tapenade
Spiced Lamb Ingredients
- 2 frenched lamb rib racks, 8 ribs each
- 2 tablespoons garam masala
- 4 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
Lemony Tapenade Ingredients
- 1 lemon
- 10 oz. jar Castelvetrano olives
- 2-4 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 cup Italian parsley
- 1/2 cup mint leaves
- 1/2 tablespoon capers
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 tablespoon honey
- kosher salt to taste
- Pit the olives by placing an olive on your cutting board, place your knife blade flat on top. While firmly holding your knife with one hand, carefully smash the flat of the blade with your other hand. Remove and discard the pit and repeat with the other olives.
- Zest and juice the lemon into the bowl of the food processor. Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse into a consistent paste, or until your desired texture. Discard the remaining juice in the olive jar and fill it with the tapenade. Seal the jar and refrigerate until ready to serve.
If using a sous-vide machine:
- Mix the garam masala and olive oil in a bowl until it makes a thick paste. Apply the paste to the meat and fat cap on each lamb rack with a pastry brush.
- Set up your machine in a pot or cooler of water according to your model’s instructions. Adjust the temperature setting to 130° F. Place each rack, bone tips up, inside the gallon sized freezer bags.
- Slowly lower a bag into the water, opening side up, when it has heated to the appropriate temperature. The water will push the air out of the bag as you lower it in. Seal the bag closed when the encased ribs are underwater and clip it to the side of the bag with a chip clip. Repeat with the second bag. Set a timer for at least an hour, but no longer than four.
- Remove the bag from the water when the time is up, and you are ready to sear. Remove the rib racks and set them on a clean cutting board. You can either discard the bags of juices or use it for stock (like in a certain cous cous recipe from last week’s post).
- Season the lamb with salt and sear for a minute on each side in a hot pan, or with a blow torch on a cooling rack for about 30 seconds.
- Let the lamb rest for 10 minutes before slicing between each rib and serving.
If using an oven:
- Preheat the oven to 450° F.
- Mix the garam masala, salt, and olive oil in a bowl until it makes a thick paste. Apply the paste to the meat and fat cap on each lamb rack with a pastry brush.
- Place the lamb, fat cap side up, on a rack in a roasting plan. Roast it in the oven about 20-25 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted in the center reaches 135º F.
- Transfer the meat to a clean cutting board and let rest 10 minutes before slicing between each rib to serve.