So, we love food. Leigh is in training to become a pastry chef while she works in the kitchen at Tsunami Sushi. I’m also someone who grew up in a family where everyone (except my younger sister for some reason) cooked frequently. I have numerous old family recipes (mostly desserts), and for many of our early dates, I cooked for Leigh. Ask her, and she’ll wax nostalgic over the candied bacon brownies I made for our first date.
Anyway, I love video games and fantasy worlds that have their own culinary cultures, and so, for many of my food posts, I’ll be drawing from either official or unofficial cookbooks for places like World of Warcraft’s Azeroth, Harry Potter’s Wizarding World, the seven kingdoms from A Song of Ice and Fire, etc. I have quite a few of these cookbooks, and I use them when I’m looking for different recipe and meal ideas.
So, let’s start with The Hearthstone Innkeeper’s Tavern Cookbook by Chelsea Monroe-Cassel – this post starts with a link to the cookbook’s page on Amazon. I’ll admit, about half of this cookbook is cocktail ideas, which I enjoy, but I was more interested in “tavern fare” as possible food for a Dungeons & Dragons game night. I haven’t used the recipes for that yet, but there are a few that could work. This recipe, the Durotar Warrior’s Pie, is something that I would probably use when the party ventures into a northern land loosely inspired by medieval northern European cultures. That said, let’s begin cooking…For the Horde!
For the Pies
- 4 large russet potatoes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon salted butter
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 pound ground beef
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 cup dark beer or beef broth
- 1.5 cups mixed vegetables
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon savory dried herbs (such as thyme, rosemary, or savory)
- Pinch of black pepper
For the Topping
- 1/2 to 1 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons salted butter
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Rub the potatoes with olive oil, then “prick the tops with a sharp knife” to allow steam to escape. Bake directly on the oven rack for about an hour, until the insides are soft and the skin feels crisp.
- While the potatoes are baking, make the filling. Add the butter and garlic a medium frying pan set over medium heat. Cook until the garlic is fragrant and golden, just a few minutes.
- Add the ground beef, stirring for 1-5 minutes, until it is fully browned. Sprinkle the flour over the meat, stirring to incorporate. While stirring, add in the beer or the beef broth, followed by the vegetables.
- Continue stirring, about 5-10 minutes, until the filling thickens. Then, add the salt, herbs, and pepper. Cook for several more minutes until the liquid forms a thick gravy. Remove from heat and set aside.
- When the potatoes are done baking, remove them from the oven and increase the heat to 375 degrees.
To Make the Topping
- Carefully cut the tops off the potatoes (remember, they’ll be hot!) and scoop out the insides, leaving just the skins.
- Put the scooped-out potato in a small bowl with the butter, and gradually pour in the milk (starting with 1/2 cup) as you mash the potatoes. Keep adding milk until you get a smooth consistency with no lumps. Stir in the cheese and add salt to taste.
Assemble the Pies
- Fill each potato skin with the meat mixture, pressing down to get as much in as you can.
- Spread some of the mashed potatoes over the filling.
- Return to the oven for 20-25 minutes until the potato starts to brown.
Both of us loved this recipe. It’s a nice take on a classic Shepherd’s Pie. No, I did not use ground beef as the recipe suggested. I used ground goat because the university where I teach has an on-campus dairy store that sells meat for amazing prices. Goat was available, so I used goat to make this. I’ll probably use the rest of the goat to make either tacos or tamales another day. The potato does get really crisp, so it’s like eating a giant, loaded potato skin. I paired the recipe with a simple mix of greens (spring mix, kale, and spinach) that I dressed with a roasted red pepper vinaigrette. I wanted to be a bit healthier with the sides. The only other change I made was using Idaho potatoes instead of russets because these are larger potatoes, which I thought would allow me to stuff more meat into the pie. It did. Also, since I only baked two pies (one for each of us), I had a lot of leftovers for the weekend! That’s always a plus.
But, no recipe is perfect. Leigh and I both agreed that this recipe was very good overall, but that it was lacking something. For her, it was a bit more salt. For me, it was a bright note – just something to wake up the palate while eating. I really can’t say overall what I would change, but I loved this recipe and will make it again.
There are several other interesting and tasty looking recipes in this book, so if you’re a fan of Warcraft, of pub food, or something that could work for you Dungeons & Dragons game night, give the Hearthstone Innkeeper’s Tavern Cookbook a try!