Books, Cooking, ETWYRT, Recipe

Eat This While You Read That: Joe Monson


Joe assigned me a delightful task, with this book and meal. He didn’t send me a recipe, he suggested that I create an Adventurer’s Stew. You couldn’t possibly make a recipe for that. When you are out on a quest with your dragon… 

I should explain. Joe’s book to read with this meal is the anthology A Dragon and Her Girl. You should definitely pick it up to read while you make this meal. Not only are there 20 stories to enjoy, but it benefits LTUE (Life, the Universe, and Everything) which is one of the best writing symposiums out there. Anthologies are like a smorgasbord of stories, not a multi-course meal, because there is something for everyone and you can pick and choose your favorites, and they come all together rather than strung out neatly like beads on a string. Stew – or at any rate, this stew! – is a bunch of things put in a pot all together and simmered on the fire while you are busy doing other things, then enjoyed in the evening along with good company. You wouldn’t want to eat it too soon – like a group on a quest, it takes time to mesh and meld into the greatness it will become with time, heat, and, ah, pressure. 

What I wanted to do with this stew was to be playful, and imaginative, and not stick too closely to a formula. Just like the stories in the anthology. 

Adventurer’s Stew

More like guidelines than a recipe

You’ll want some meat. Me, I wanted this to be where I was playful, so I acquired some alligator andouille sausage. Closest thing to dragon meat I could get in the store. Markets these days! 

That wasn’t enough, so I had some nice fat brisket with plenty of smoky goodness (note- meat really shouldn’t be on fire. But if it is, put it out and cut off the black bits)

So you have about a pound and a half of meat. You’ll want more if you have a large adventure party, but for 4 who hadn’t been sword-fighting all day, this is a good start. 

Now for the filler. I cubed up: 

2 medium turnips (what farmer will miss just a few turnips from the edge of his field?) 

2 medium golden beets (when they said dragons hoarded gold, I don’t know what I was expecting, but not that)

1 lb piece (give or take) of Daikon 

1 and a bit of a large onion. 

Some mushrooms (look, don’t pick the pretty ones. Trust me on this. The dull brown ones near the old horseapples are right)

Garlic. Plenty of it. Don’t bother to chop it too small, either. 

Some grease. Bacon grease is fine, and don’t skimp – fighters need the calories! 

Handful of herbs (mine were thyme, oregano, and garlic chives.)

Filé powder (what? your cook doesn’t collect sassafras leaves and hang odd bundles of green from their horse until they look like an ambulatory bush, then grind ’em when they are dry and you no longer know what that was, but it’s tasty?)

A pint of lager (if no one in the party will sacrifice their beer, water or beef broth will do)

Grinding filé powder from dried sassafras leaves. This both adds a classic gumbo flavor, and thickens the broth.

In a pot – I happen to have the convenience of my kitchen, and an instantPot set on saute, then slow cooker – you’ll want to heat up the grease. 

Into the hot grease, put your onions and garlic. Stir over the high heat until they are translucent and soft, then add your chopped-up brisket to render out the fat. Finally add in your mushrooms, sliced, and the alligator sausage, sliced. Chop up your herb leaves (toss the stems) and put those in.

Those beets are real gold!


Once this is all cooked, add in the diced root veggies, the beer, and the filé powder (about a tablespoon of this, from a handful of dried leaves, sifted). Cover, move to a lower heat (slow cooker setting) and let alone for about 7 -8 hours. Long enough to go explore that ruined castle. You’ll work up an appetite. Whoever stays at the camp to mind the horses might stir it from time to time. 
Uncover, taste, and add salt as needed (the sausages were quite salty, we didn’t need extra). Stir in a spoonful of that soured cream. Why did you swipe that poor farm wife’s crock of nice cream? You knew it wouldn’t keep! But that’s all right, it’s good in the stew. Maybe a few flakes of that hard cheese, if you have any left. 
Dragon-approved stew, complete with the heat to give you just a bit of dragon-breath yourself. Not enough to hurt, just enough to warm you through and through. Those dank ruins can give you quite a chill! 
On a more serious note, this is not so much a recipe as it is an exploration of making a stew that isn’t loaded with carbs. The adventurers would probably want lots of potatoes, and maybe a nice roux with a handful of flour to make this stick to their ribs, and definitely a nice crusty loaf of bread (doubtless acquired like the cream from some poor farm wife). You might, too! But this writer is trying to slim, so I stuck with ingredients that were more protein and fiber, less sugars. It made for a lovely meal. The filé was a great touch, and I’m tickled. I’ve been trying to come up with a good recipe for it. 
The Junior Mad Scientist – who is a very picky eater, indeed – ate her bowl up with approving noises and a dragon on her lap. She now wants to read the anthology herself, and I hope she does, just as you should! Adventures are lovely to read about while you contemplate the wonderful flavors in a really complex bowl of stew. Much warmer and dryer to read about than to have. The First Reader points out this is much better than you have any right to expect on the trail. He’s willing to try it again and also to do without that spice that starvation while questing adds to any meal you have out there! He was surprised at how well the turnips, daikon, and beets worked in the stew, as two of those he will usually avoid at any cost. He likes radishes, but isn’t used to them cooked and enjoyed them like this. 
For more Eat This While You Read That books and recipes, go to the page and just keep scrolling! You’re sure to see something that catches your eye. 

2 thoughts on “Eat This While You Read That: Joe Monson

  1. It sounds good, and also like the basis for a story of your own! Hey, there are mysteries and other stories based around recipes, why not a fantasy adventure?

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