Ah, fall, when our scarves come out of hiding, our iced tea turns to piping hot latte, and we devour warm cozy comfort foods prepared by a kitchen staffed entirely by cats. Wait, what?
I’ve recently become obsessed with the game Monster Hunter World, in which (as the name implies) you hunt monsters; but before going on your quests, you must first stop in at a canteen for power-up meals. The food, prepared by Felyne chefs, is rendered with starling and wholly unnecessary fidelity—gorgeous glistening meats, bubbling casseroles, steaming skewers of shrimp and lobster, and a paella large enough you could curl up and sleep in it.
I’ve been staring at this food for long enough that it’s started to invade my dreams, and for my latest Play Date video, I decided to attempt to recreate some of the hardiest of the meals in real life. I focused on the dinner prepared by the Grammeowster, a sweet elderly-looking cat who fixes up a beef stew, creamy soup, and cheesy casserole. Grabbing a few recipes from around the web, I did my best to translate ingredients to what’s seasonably available (and reduce the amounts so I wasn’t left with an entire hunting party’s amount of food).
As it turns out, my enthusiasm for comfort food wasn’t quite enough to match the Grammeowster’s expertise.
The beef stew was the most unfamiliar recipe: I got a chuck roast at QFC, explaining to the meat guy that I was making a video about video game food. (“Won’t be the first time my meat gets photographed,” he said, and I nearly did a spit take.) I’ll admit, I rushed this recipe, hoping that 15 minutes in a pressure-cooker with a slow cooldown would be enough to tenderize it. Along with it went carrots, onions, potatoes, and parsnips, as well as a bunch of red wine and beef broth. Alas, my impatience was a mistake; the beef really should have had at least an hour to break down into fall-apart tenderness. Oh well!
Meanwhile, I prepared an onion and leek soup, scorching the pot on my first try because I was so distracted by the stew’s cooking smell. Potatoes were boiled, leeks sauteed, and stock splashed over them; my crucial error was thinking that I could use a potato masher in the absence of a blender. Instead, what I made was a very wet version of oniony mashed potatoes. Pressing it through a pasta strainer in desperation, I was rewarded with a delicious—but disgustingly chunky—soup.
But my third endeavor was the most successful: Slicing some potatoes and grating cheap cheddar, I prepared an au gratin dish with a bunch of thyme and more chopped onions. Add heavy cream and sequester it all in the oven; it crisped up quite nicely for a starchy, sticky delight that I will probably repeat every week until April. Who’d have guessed, carbs and fats taste good?
Overall, it a marginally successful endeavor — if you’re looking for some cold-weather/warm-kitchen comforts, I’d recommend adopting these general recipes but with a few caveats: For the pot roast, remember that cheap beef will not be rushed, so give it longer than you think it needs; potato and leek soup really should be blended, not mashed, and don’t skimp on the salt; and when it doubt, roast cheese and potatoes.
This episode is brought to you by Coindexter's Bar in the heart of Greenwood. Although the games are off for now, good food and cocktails are ON. Stop in for a happy meal special, which comes with a free temporary tattoo in the box, or take home an adult "drink pouch" cocktail. Coindexter’s is open daily at 4pm for dine-in and take-out. Find them on instagram at @coindextersbar, or online at coindexters.com.