With special guest chef, Akmenos son of Bane
Welcome to Day 7 of your sneak peek at my special 5-Course Wild Magical Banquet menu!
Your dining experience is, sadly, nearing its end. You will by now be congratulating yourself on making such a fine choice of eating establishment because, for the price, you couldn’t have found a more astounding range of dishes and eating experiences, even if it was slightly disconcerting that the door needed to be locked and barred once you were inside. Even in the humble art of cookery, we must take precautions against the powers that draw their nets against us, out there, in the dark.
Hey, it’s not paranoia when you know they’re really after you.
However, don’t worry too much about what might be lurking outside when the time comes for you to take your leave. For the moment, you’re still my guest, and the best is yet to come. Oh yes it is.
Finding the ingredients might be a challenge, but remember that Omnium Gatherum, fine purveyor and literature dark and twisted, is offering you, dear reader, a free copy of a certain tome, recounting my latest adventures, entitled Sons of the Curse, for the mere act of recreating my recipes yourself, and somehow painting them in invisible fragments of light on this infernal window. To learn more, click your clicking thing on this scrawl of letters.
Main Course: Meat Dish the Third
Spit-Roasted Unicorn Forequarter
Be warned! Cooking this dish, or even partaking of it, has the potential to make you some unexpected enemies, or at the very leastmake you unpopular with some of your more soft-hearted *cough* weak-stomached *cough* neighbours. But it will almost certainly be worth it.
Sometimes our eating choices fall between the urbane and the astounding. Sometimes, according to some, they fall on the other side of the fence, in the realm of the reprehensible. This just might be one of those times.
The same sorts of people who object to eating things like cats and dogs and hedgehogs because they’re cute also seem to take umbrage at the fact that we even know unicorn has to be, bar none, the most delectable meat from here to Landaria and back. They seem to think that because an animal is beautiful and mysterious and mystical that it has some divine right not to be eaten.
Well, bully to them, I say. Polar bears are beautiful and mysterious as well, but I don’t see anyone complaining about them being a popular slab of ribs on the barbecue. Or whales for that matter. So they can quit their moaning, because I’m not listening.
Now, while for catering purposes I much prefer the whole beast, skinned and gutted and skewered right down the middle on a solid iron spike, then dressed and oiled and slung up over a glowering bed of coals for a good twelve hours, turning frequently, I understand that most of my clientele won’t have the means or the need to do this. So here is my trimmed-down home-friendly version, which you can do in your own cooking receptacle.
You just have to imagine the sight of that glorious conglomeration of joints, haunch, and horn, tenderloins and knuckles and cheeks, turning languidly over the coals, sizzling as the fat drips into the fire, filling the longhouse with the decadent aromas of one of the most beautiful, delicious beasts ever to fall prey to the hunter’s art.
It’ll still taste as good.
1 x Rolled Unicorn Forequarter Roast (If you didn’t get to the butcher before your neighbours bought up what limited supply the hunters could deliver, you can always substitute this for fresh spring lamb instead)
Fresh garden herbs: Mint, oregano, rosemary, thyme, roughly chopped
1 x Onion
Season the unicorn forequarter with olive oil and freshly ground salt and pepper, then roll in the fresh herbs.
Quarter the onion and drizzle it lightly with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper.
Place the unicorn and onion on a rack over a roasting tray and leave to rest in your icebox for an hour.
If you have a fire pit and a spit roast, then by all means use it! If not, use your confounded cooking receptacle, and roast at 190C / 375F (whatever that means) for 1 to 1 1/2hrs, depending how well done you like your meat. Personally, I enjoy my unicorn rare.
(Geddit? Geddit? Because unicorns are so freaking rare? Oh never mind)
Don’t let those drippings go to waste. You’ll want to scrape the tray and mix up some gravy with a bit of stock and flour, and of course the meat and gravy will be just gorgeous with a garnish of roasted pumpkin and fresh green asparagus.
Complementary sides, you see, since I have it on good authority that pumpkin and asparagus are a unicorn’s favourite foods. It’s only right that they should be together again in death.
Akmenos, son of Bane, has never actually seen a unicorn in the flesh, but he trusts those who sell him his meat, since for such extravagant prices how could it be anything but the most rare and dangerous prey they hunt? To understand our misunderstood hero a little better, jump into his adventures in Brothers of the Knife, Book 1 of the Children of Bane series, and Book 2, Sons of the Curse. Just as soon as he’s got the dessert course out of the way, he plans to get back to pottering in the kitchen, smoking his pipe (if only he could find it), and drinking tea.
Dan Rabarts vehemently denies that this recipe may have been originally posted on his cooking blog, Freshly Ground, several years ago, and that Akmenos has plagiarised his work for his own gain.
To read about that one time Akmenos really did cook up a mythical beast thinking it was just an average joint of beef, carry on reading below the line.
Akmenos was still hungry, and the sliver of meat he’d gnawed on had set his stomach to growling. He hefted the unidentified joint and returned it to the coals. There were no crocks, pots or pans to be seen, but Akmenos found a few flat stones and set one into the coals to heat. With any luck, he could carve some slabs from the haunch and enjoy some properly cooked meat before the hyenas returned to joint and cook him. He pulled an onion and a potato from his pocket, and sliced them thin, to cook in the fat from the meat.
For a short while he was lost in the sizzling of lunch, smells and sounds to fill his ears, nose and soul with hope. He had just achieved what he might call lunch, when the afternoon disintegrated into chaos. Howls erupted somewhere outside, followed by the clash of wood and metal. Were Akmenos a man of action, he would’ve abandoned his meal, grabbed any weapon he could find, and prepared to face whatever threat may come. But Akmenos was no fighter. He was hungry. Disappointed his potatoes wouldn’t be quite as tender as he liked, he scraped the hot food onto another slab and began to shovel meat, onion and potatoes into his mouth. He was still sucking cool air over his burning tongue when the fighting spilled into this cave. He scurried—plate in hand—behind the table.
Al sailed through the air and smashed into the far wall with a sick crunch. The hyena slumped shapelessly to the floor, suggesting his spine was now several more pieces than it had been moments before. Akmenos pressed himself against the table and continued to chew ferociously, for of all the things he could do with ferocity, eating was the most ferocious. If whatever was coming was also intent on killing him, he may as well die with a full belly. It was only fair.
He heard Jack’s horrific laughter then, as if some kind of macabre battle cry, and the thump of spear meeting flesh. The hyena’s cry was met with a bellow that shook the walls, a thunder of roughshod feet and smashing timber. Akmenos licked his plate. The whole thing could’ve done with a spot of caraway, but it was a gamey meat, quite flavoursome on its own. Kind of like beef, only bigger, fuller, somehow.
Jack’s howl was cut off with a sound like a cleaver hacking through a side of ribs, and the room went quiet aside from the rushing of blood in Akmenos’ ears. He laid the plate down and felt for his knives. Check. His trusty salt and pepper grinders were still looped into his apron, plus an assortment of herbs and spices. There was even a small bottle of oil, which he might have been able to use to slip away from this mess, but alas, at that moment someone stepped around the table. Akmenos saw a leg. A very large leg, ending in a massive, blood-spattered cloven hoof. Behind this leg, beside the fire, rested the upright remains of the haunch Akmenos had butchered for his meal. The similarities between the cooked haunch and the living leg before him were hard to miss, both the shape and the size.
For one of the very rare times in his life, Akmenos wished he hadn’t eaten. Looking up, his gorge rose. Belly rippling with muscle and covered in wiry hair. Arms as thick as small trees, hands that could crush Akmenos’ skull effortlessly. His gaze continued up, past a neck so massive it was impossible to tell where the shoulders ended and the head began. Huge nostrils flared over a gaping bovine maw, which glistened bloodily. Two long horns dripped gore. The beast’s huge chest heaved and its fists flexed open and closed as it surveyed the room.
Akmenos had heard of the Taur, but had never seen one. He’d certainly never expected to meet one so soon after heartily devouring an ample portion of one of his brethren—and it was a him, to be sure.
The bullman’s nostrils flared.
“Hello,” Akmenos croaked, swallowing a burp and discretely pushing away the gravy-stained plate.
Brothers of the Knife, Chapter 11, Book of the Children of Bane series, by Dan Rabarts (Omnium Gatherum, 2019)