Welcome back, paesanos, it’s time for the Super Fire Emblem Super Show. And what better way to continue this culinary descent into madness than a dish that redefines “descent into madness”. Yes, Sylvain might have a deft hand when it comes to the ladies, but his family’s cheese is untraceable.
The Dish: Gautier Cheese Gratin
Ingredients: Poultry, Noa fruit. Also, obviously, Gautier cheese.
The Research: I at first believed it would be easy to locate Gautier cheese. “There’s no way”, I told myself, “that this cheese will seemingly have no real-world equivalent, and that the creators were pulling something out of thin air.” Oh, what a fool I was! So naive.
My research began with the man himself, Sylvain Jose Gautier. Now, I know enough about etymology to know that all three of those names are not unheard-of in France (yes, even Jose), so my research into real-world cheeses began there. Gautier cheese is described as low-fat with a distinctive flavor, so I looked into every French cheese that the Internet was at least vaguely aware of. This would be roadblock one: there are seemingly no low-fat French cheeses.
“Okay”, I told myself, undaunted. “Maybe I’m looking in the wrong places. What is Gautier Territory’s real-life equivalent?” You see, if you look at the Fodlán map side-by-side with a map of Europe, there are a heck of a lot of similarities.
Using the coastline as my guide, I figure that Gautier Territory is roughly where Estonia is in our world (as you’ll see, assuming Kleiman is Denmark there’s a similar kind of swoosh – could be Sweden, though). Armed with this knowledge, I ascertained that the closest equivalent to Gautier cheese is probably something called Soir, which is a combination of whole milk and quark (similar to cottage cheese). Second problem: I couldn’t find the stuff anywhere.
I searched everywhere for some reasonable equivalent, but all the internet hivemind knows of Soir is that it definitely exists, is Estonian, and involves milk, quark, and some other stuff. So after some more research, I settled on Gouda, as it was described somewhere as a “washed-curd” cheese, and I figure if Soir involves liquid and curds that’s close enough for me. It’s not necessarily low-fat, but finding low-fat cheese was its own ordeal (all I was finding were Livestrong ripoffs saying that yes, Virginia, you can diet and have cheese). And that was the end of that nightmare.
The Method: Since this is a gratin, I figured I’d do a spin on chicken pot pie with apple, topped with the requisite potatoes and cheese. The meal began by washing, coring and dicing two Granny Smith apples, followed by washing and thinly slicing four red potatoes (I used a mandoline, and I’ve gotta say, one of the better uses of $25 I’ve come across), then washing them again and starting a large pot to boil.
Once the mise en place was done, the next step was to make a standard Béchamel sauce. If you’ve never made one before, it’s very easy: just melt some butter, drop in an equal amount of flour, and combine until homogeneous. Then drop in some hot milk, and boil until the sauce is suitably thick. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the raw-flour smell and taste are gone. There, don’t say I never taught you anything.
Once boiling, I dropped my potatoes into said large pot and cooked them until tender. Now we must turn our attention to the poultry, for which I decided on chicken, specifically a half-rotisserie chicken from the store. You could roast yours up fresh (and if you do, I heartily endorse the method described in J. Kenji López-Alt’s The Food Lab), but I was feeling lazy.
Anyway, I pulled all the usable meat off my bird, combined it with the Bechamel, some diced apple, and – to really turn this from a double into a home run – some sage (if you’re not familiar with your spices, that’s the herb that makes stuffing amazing). Next, I put my mixture in a pie tin, topped it with my boiled sliced potatoes, then topped it with some Gouda for the cheese requirement.
In the oven it went for 10 minutes. After some broiling to brown the cheese, here’s what we got:
The Result: This isn’t the prettiest dish, but man, was it tasty. The cheese was delicious, the potatoes were perfectly crisp, and the sage really tied the filling together. The diced apple wasn’t amazing or anything, but it did offer a nice textural offset to the chicken (though if I make this again, I’ll definitely stick with the traditional peas and carrots for my filling). Gautier cheese may have been nigh-unto-impossible to find, but I think this dish would’ve done them proud.
Disclaimer: This is a fan-based blog and has no affiliation with Nintendo or any other rightsholders of Fire Emblem, Fire Emblem Three Houses, or any other associated brands. Author apologizes in advance for any future blatant Kenji fanboyism.