I’m counting down the last eleven days until new episodes of Doctor Who with eleven Whovian recipes.
Like all professional writers, I acquired some utterly useless degrees. My favorite has to be the piece of paper declaring my Mastery of Classics. (The graduation ceremony sadly, did not come with a fob watch that restored memories of previous lives.) Rory looked pretty darn fetching playing dress up in his Roman togs, but when he decided to spend 2000 years waiting, well, I was a little jealous. I’d love to see the things he experienced. That includes tasting food of different eras. While you can’t simulate life as a plasticine duplicate, you can enjoy a little culinary time travel with this classic Roman stew enjoyed by generations of legionaries.
Rory the Roman’s Farro Stew
2 tbsp/30ml olive oil
2 leeks, white parts only, sliced
1 1/2 cups/300 g pearl farro
6 cups/1.4 l beef broth
1 tsp/5 g salt
1 tsp/5 g fresh ground black pepper
2 tbsp/30 g crumbled goat cheese
I’ll be honest with you here. When I watched The Pandorica Opens, my first impulse was to make a Stonehenge sculpture out of hot dogs and tuck a white chocolate and strawberry Cyberman head inside. Heck, you could surround your MeatHenge with two of every alien, as though you were creating the scariest ark in the universe
Then I saw Rory – the first man to be totally unimpressed when he walked onto the Tardis – and decided to honor him and the rest of his plastic legionnaires with this hearty, simple ancient Roman stew.
You can find farro at most health food stores, schmancy groceries, and even on Amazon. If you’re in a pinch, go ahead and substitute pearl barley. The flavor will be a little different, but the Romans were pretty flexible. They came. They saw. They conquered. Along the way, they ate whatever they could get their hot Italian hands on.
To make this simple, hearty legionnaires stew, start by putting a soup pot on a medium heat and adding your olive oil and leeks. Cook for 7-10 minutes, or until the leeks are golden brown. Now simply add everything but the cheese. Give it a good stir and put a lid on the stew. Wait for it to come to a boil. Give it one more enthusiastic stir, turn the heat down to low, and put the lid back on. Leave it alone for the next hour and half, or until the farro has absorbed a lot of the moisture and become nice and tender. You’ll naturally want to peek, but try not to take off the lid and stir the stew more often than every 15 minutes.
Once the stew is finished, ladle it into bowls, drizzle a little extra olive oil on top, then finish each bowl with a sprinkle of goat cheese and a dash of salt and pepper. The salt would’ve been expensive for Romans, but after a visit by Caesar and Cleopatra up near Londinium, surely the wealthy guests would’ve spread a little wealth around for the soldiers.
This is best served with hearty, homemade bread, whatever seasonal vegetables you can scavenge, and a hearty sense of cultural superiority.
You can find plenty of recipes for your Doctor Who viewing party (including some other historic ones for my fellow time travelers) in Dining With The Doctor: The Unauthorized Whovian Cookbook.