Holy Mockingjay, Batman - I am so excited about this post! Food 'n Flix and Cook the Books have teamed up to do a double post for The Hunger Games, with Heather from girlichef hosting! Announcement post is here.
The Hunger Games is the first book of a trilogy about a dystopian alternate timeline where war has reduced America to 12 Districts ruled by a Capital. As punishment for a rebellion, all 12 Districts must offer up 1 boy and 1 girl between the ages of 12 and 18 as a tribute to compete in the Hunger Games each year. These children must then fight to the death in a televised spectacle with only 1 survivor. To make things even worse, all of the Districts are purposefully kept in a state of starvation except for the District of the winner - which is given ample food for a year until the next Hunger Games (hence the name). Food, therefore, is extremely important and a focus throughout the series.
The protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, is an extremely tough teen who would do anything to protect her family and especially her little sister, Primrose. When Prim is selected as Tribute (a death sentence for the timid 12 year-old), Katniss volunteers to take her place. Before being entered into the death-match proper, the Tributes are primped and pampered and paraded around the Capital. It is here that Katniss experiences luxury and an overabundance of food for the first time in her life.
Her favorite dish is a Lamb Stew with Dried Plums - it is mentioned frequently and even sent to her as a present when she is fighting for her life. I decided that the stew would be the perfect dish to make for this post, served on some wild rice that seemed fitting for the setting. I also served it with goat cheese rolled in herbs (inspired by the cheese that Primrose makes from her prized pet) and rustic seed bread (inspired by Peeta - Katniss's love interest and fellow Tribute, whose family owns a bakery).
I bought a huge 10 lb pork shoulder at the store a while back when I was making pulled pork - it was the only pork shoulder available in the whole store! So I took it home, butchered it and cut it into three sections and froze two of them. I used one of the sections to make yummy carnitas, but I wanted to do something new with the last piece. That is where my Essentials of Slow Cooking cookbook came in handy, and I found this recipe for pork that is slow simmered in broth and orange juice with apricots, thyme, and mustard for a sweet and savory treat.