This pan seared steak with a red wine cranberry reduction is paired with mixed mushrooms and mashed rutabaga for a hearty meal that’s sure to satisfy your hunger on the coldest winter evenings.
[Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Torakand Adventures LLC and is part of a series of recipes developed for the fictional fantasy setting of Lost Colonies, an immersive live-action roleplaying community in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia area. This post also contains affiliate links, and I will earn a commission if you purchase through those links.]
Pan Seared Steak with Red Wine Cranberry Reduction
This recipe for Pan Seared Steak with Red Wine Cranberry (aka Glowberry) Reduction, Mixed Mushrooms, & Mashed Rutabaga is the fourth in a series of recipes inspired by the fictional cultures and traditions of Lost Colonies, a live action roleplaying experience based in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia area. (You can learn more about this collaboration in the first post of the series.)
For this dish, I pan seared petite filet’s of beef with some salt and spices, and then made a very simple pan sauce from the drippings with dry red wine, Worcestershire sauce, and a handful of frozen cranberries. The tart fruit brightens the flavors of the red wine reduction, transforming the recipe from something very familiar to just a touch unusual. A side of sauteed mixed mushrooms go perfectly with the sauce, and creamy mashed rutabagas are reminiscent of potatoes, while having a slightly more earthy flavor that sets them apart. These small touches transform this dish from your average evening meal into an otherworldly dinner, all in the comfort and ease of your own home.Jump to Recipe
Many foreigners may assume the food in this underground region is wanting, due to the lack of traditional crops. The people of Terradinum, however, have developed a unique cuisine that cannot be adequately replicated anywhere else in Sobukand. Should you be lucky enough to find yourself invited to a family meal while visiting, you would be foolish to turn down the offer. A traditional home meal is simple, but hearty – steak of seared ubuk, served with a mixture of local mushrooms and a creamy scoop of mashed rutabaga root. All is topped with a glaze made of red wine and another Terradinum delicacy – glowberries. Do not be put off by thought of eating meat from the ubuk – a commonly hunted subterranean worm of unusual size. I can assure you that the meat, when properly prepared, is as good as any land creature I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying. Rare have I been so satisfied with a meal as this.
– Excerpt from A Traveler’s Guide to Sobukand by Donla Pheinkuk
A Terradinum Dinner at Home
Terradinum is an imaginary subterranean region with access to rather, shall we say, unorthodox ingredients. Therefore, in addition to a focus on mushrooms and interesting roots and tubers, I had to make some substitutions for the more “traditional” ingredients this fictional culture would use in their cuisine.
Rather than use the fictional staple of ubuk meat – a giant burrowing worm large enough to feed entire communities – I used two filets of beef. Cranberries, which become a lovely gem-like hue when cooked, have taken the place of the more interesting glowberry – an imaginary fruit with natural luminescent qualities. I also used some spices more commonly seen in medieval savory cooking than in modern day: nutmeg, mace, and grains of paradise. The resulting meal is familiar, reminiscent of a good steak-and-potatoes dinner, while still being a bit exotic and interesting.
Pan Seared Steak with Red Wine Cranberry Reduction is as satisfying and delicious in the real world as I imagine a home cooked Terradinum meal would be – sure to stick to your bones and warm you up on a cold and damp winter’s eve.
Imagining Fictionalized Food
Much of fictional food creation is based in the real world. One begins by thinking about climate and terrain, which leads to what sorts of crops and animals would be present. For the most part, fantasy cultures are based on real world analogs – Food in Hogwarts is a fantastical version of Great Britain’s candies and pub fare more often than not; Meals in Winterfell resemble those of early European and Nordic styles; The Trolls in World of Warcraft have a (sometimes problematic) island-based lifestyle, resulting in Caribbean inspired recipes. While it’s important to take care in creating foods for these worlds so as not to be appropriative or derivative, we still have real world environments and understood sciences to build from.
What, then, do we do when it comes to a truly alien environment, like the subterranean culture of Terradinum? How can we create food that reflects the truly otherworldly nature of the terrain? And how can we do this while still keeping the food recognizable (and even appealing) to a real-world audience? These are the questions I tackle when developing meals for particularly fantastic cultures.
For Terradinum, I focused on what was available – an incredibly wide variety of fungi; real-life roots and tubers not commonly eaten by a modern American audience; and finally on a way to make “worm meat” into something realistically edible on a daily basis (rather than some kind of grotesque sideshow). As the lore states that a properly harvested ubuk can feed over a hundred for at least month, this meat is certainly a major part of Terradinum life. Families would find all sorts of ways to prepare this staple food in order to keep themselves from becoming bored. This made me think about traditional Western comfort foods. And what is more traditional to the heart of American cooking than steak and potatoes?
Please enjoy traditional Terradinum meal of Pan Seared Steak with Red Wine Cranberry Reduction in your own home for an easy dinner with just a touch of something special.
Pan Seared Steak with Red Wine Cranberry Reduction
This pan seared steak with a red wine cranberry reduction is paired with mixed mushrooms and mashed rutabaga for a hearty meal that’s sure to satisfy on the coldest winter evenings.
Steak with Red Wine Cranberry Reduction & Mixed Mushrooms
- 3 tablespoons butter, divided
- 2 cups assorted fresh mushrooms (I used cremini & enoki mushrooms)
- 4 tenderloin steak filets (about 4 ounces each)
- 2 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 teaspoons ground grains of paradise (or ground black pepper)
- 1/8 teaspoon ground mace
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 pounds rutabaga root, peeled and roughly chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/3 cup butter, unsalted
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
Pat dry the steak filets and sprinkle generously with 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper on each side. Set aside and let come to room temperature.
Boil the Mashed Rutabagas
Place the chopped rutabaga in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a gentle boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer, and allow to cook for 30 minutes.
When easily pierced with a fork, drain the water from the pot and return the rutabaga pieces. Mash well, and stir in the butter and cream.
Saute the Mushrooms
As the rutabagas boil, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large pan over medium heat. Saute the mushrooms until soft, sprinkling with ¼ teaspoon salt (about 8-10 minutes). Remove the mushrooms from the pan with a slotted spoon and keep warm.
Pan Sear the Steaks
Without cleaning out the pan used to saute the mushrooms, melt another tablespoon of butter over medium high heat. Add the steaks to the pan, sautéing without moving them for 3-5 minutes. Flip the steaks, and saute another 3 minutes, or until done to your liking (140 degrees F is medium rare). Remove the steaks to a cutting board. Let rest for 10 minutes.
Make the Pan Sauce
With the pan still over medium heat, deglaze the pan with red wine, scraping up the brown bits. Let it reduce for 2-3 minutes.
Add the broth, Worcestershire sauce, cranberries, and remaining seasonings, including 1/4 teaspoon salt. Reduce the mixture over medium heat until the cranberries pop and are tender (about 8-10 minutes). The reduction should be thick and syrupy. Add more broth, a tablespoon at a time, if the mixture dries up too quickly.
When the pan sauce is properly reduced, add the last tablespoon of butter to the mixture in the pan and swirl. Remove from heat.
Plating & Presentation
Place a scoop of mashed rutabagas and a spoonful of mushrooms on each plate. Set a steak filet with each. Spoon a few sautéed cranberries and some of the red wine cranberry glaze over the steaks and serve warm.
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