Episode 412 - Keystone: North America

Release Date: November 21, 2022

Download:  Enhanced  | MP3

Running Time:  61 min

Subscribe:  Enhanced  | MP3 | RSS

The work of a field biologist is never done. You can learn so much by studying how ecosystems hang together. And the more of North America you explore, the more you understand how each ecosystem is an interconnected and delicate mesh of organisms. So much depends on keystone species. These organisms are the glue that holds a habitat together. When they are threatened or disappear, a whole ecosystem can collapse like a house of cards, forever changed, and not for the better.

Keystone North America is a card driven board game. Players are biologists tasked with assembling ecosystems by arranging organisms into the most optimal sequences possible. The challenge is balance. The best place for an organism in one ecosystem may prevent another ecosystem from flourishing. The more you play with the building blocks of life on this large scale, the more chances you have to puzzle out small secrets from the living world.


A Meal segment with Paco García-Reed Jaen's recipe for arroz al horno and a game recommendation from Stephen.

Keystone: North America  

Designer: Jeffrey Joyce, Issac Vega

Art: Irem Erbilir, Yan Tamba, Alyssa Menold, Patricia Casarrubios

Publisher:  Rose Gauntlet Entertainment  |  BGG Entry

1-4 players  45-60 minutes  ages 10+   MSRP $45/65 (standard/deluxe)

Time to teach/learn:  5-7 minutes

The Meal - Arroz al Horno & Ramen

Arroz al Horno recipe provided by Paco Garcia-Reed Jaen

Check out Paco's great work at GMS Magazine and his new Channel: So Play We All!

Arroz al Horno Recipe

Arroz al horno, Baked Rice, is nearly as popular as Paella and yet it’s nowhere near as well known. Even though its origins go back centuries, unlike Paella, there isn’t a clear origin of this dish. It is, though, a dish with many variations, and depending on where you are in Valencia, you see some ingredients or another.

This is very handy because it means we can experiment a bit and still come up with a delicious dish.

It does have, though, some ingredients that are common though: rice, potato, tomatoes, chickpeas and meat.

Although traditionally this dish is cooked in a terracotta pot, you can get the same great results in a shallow pot.

An interesting factoid, long ago, when people didn’t use to have ovens at home, they would take the pots to their local bakery where they would cook the dish for them in the bread ovens. In some towns, that is still the tradition.

If you need help converting the measurements, this site can be of help: https://www.convert-me.com/en/convert/cooking/


1L meat or chicken stock (you can also use water, but stock is preferred).
500 g round rice
200 g chickpeas cooked and drained
150 g chopped tomato
Pinch of Saffron
500 g diced pork ribs
2 onion black puddings
1 medium potato
1 head of garlic
1 large tomato
Sweet paprika
Extra virgin olive oil


Firstly let’s grate one and a half of the tomatoes. We will need this to make a sofrito later on. Also, turn on the oven and heat it up to 200-220ºC

In a hot pan with some olive oil, lightly fry the ribs and the pancetta. You don’t want them to be crunchy but we want it to start releasing some of the delicious juices. Set aside for now.

Do the same with the blood pudding. Lightly fry it in the pan and set aside.

Peel the potato and cut them in 1cm slices. Fry them in the pan with the oil, both sides, until they are golden. Also set aside.

Add the tomato we grated earlier, the rice, cheakpeas, paprika, some salt and the saffron and stir fry on a medium heat for about 5 minutes.

Put back in the pan the ribs and bloodpudding and arrange the halved tomato and potato.

And now crown it with a whole head of garlic in the middle of the pan. I know what you might be thinking but no, it is not too much garlic and yes, you must do it even if you thin you won’t like it. Because you will like it… roasted garlic is *amazing*!

Now, and this is the real trick to a great arroz al horno, is to use the right amount of liquid. Practice makes perfection and there is no other way to find out: the general rule is 2 to 2.5 times the amount of stock to rice. In this case, I am using 400gr of rice, so I will start by adding 800ml of broth. Also, make sure it’s very hot. If you add it cold it will only add to the cooking time.

Some people use water and you can use vegetable stock too, but traditionally a broth made out of chicken, ham and other ingredients is used.

Of course I will show you how to cook that, but it is very much a winter dish, so maybe in a few weeks!

Take your pan to your oven, which is preheated at 220ºC and let it sit for 17 to 20 minutes.

After this time, check the rice for consistency and, if need be, add a little bit more stock. This is where learning how your oven works and also depending on what sort of rice you use, will come with time.

When the rice is almost cooked, take the pan out of the oven and cover it with foil or a clean cloth. Let it rest for 10 minutes while it finishes cooking and you have your starter. Which I suggest you make it a light one because this is quite a hearty meal!

Buen provecho!


D: Isra C, Sheila S  |  P: Primigenio  |  2-5 pl  |  30 min  |  ages 8+  |  BGG Entry



There's still time to submit creative projects & other fun stuff for The Spiel Foundation art auction!


Music credits include:

Djangology  |  by The Amazing Keystone Band  |  the song

Minor Swing  |  by The Amazing Keystone Band  |  the song