Tolkien Cooking: Bert the Troll’s Kabobs (a.k.a. Mutton and Gravy) by Astrid Tuttle Winegar
So anyway, the ultimate enemy in The Hobbit is a vicious and clever dragon named Smaug, who eats ponies, dwarves, and men. I am assuming he would eat these delicacies raw or he might singe them with a puff of his own fire. Rather than trying to invent dishes that would mimic raw, bloody flesh, I decided not to include any strange recipes for Smaug in my cookbook. There are also goblins (orcs) and large spiders in The Hobbit. However, the spiders just want to eat Bilbo and the dwarves. One day, I’ll treat you to all my goblin/orc recipes; nomnomnom.
Earlier in Tolkien’s text, however, Bilbo and company unfortunately encounter three trolls and they are captured. The trolls had been toasting some mutton over a fire and there is a “fine toothsome smell.” Apparently, trolls prefer to eat manflesh. When they capture the dwarves, the trolls discuss at length just how they should prepare this unexpected, yet welcome, culinary windfall. They conclude that Bilbo would hardly make more than an appetizer. The following recipes raise troll cuisine up a few notches, but they are still fairly rough and ready.
One of the trolls laments their lack of gastronomic variety: “Mutton yesterday, mutton today, and blimey, if it don’t look like mutton again tomorrer.” I can easily understand how one can tire of mutton, but what if a lovely bit of lamb came their way? This would call for pearl onions and a tasty marinade. This might even satisfy the Top Chef trolls in the current films; they certainly are more pretentious than Tolkien’s original trolls, don’t you think?
Bert the Troll’s Kabobs (a.k.a. Mutton and Gravy)
1 tablespoon each:
crushed ginger, fresh or from a jar
red wine vinegar
2-3 tablespoons fresh mint, minced
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 – 1¼ pounds lamb (stew meat or from a roast), cut into 1½ -2″ pieces (you’ll need 20) *
3 cups water
16 pearl onions, any color (small boiler onions would also work)
Combine the first ten ingredients in a covered jar and shake well. Place lamb in a medium-sized bowl and pour the marinade over all. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours (or even overnight); stir occasionally.
Meanwhile, in a 2-quart saucepan, combine 3 cups water and the onions. Bring to a boil and cook for one minute. Drain and set aside until cool enough to handle. Cut off the ends and pull off the peel. On 4 metal skewers coated with cooking spray, alternately thread five chunks of lamb and four onions on each, beginning and ending with lamb; reserve marinade for basting. Place on a small baking sheet. Coat grill with cooking spray and preheat to medium-low. Place kabobs on grill and liberally brush with half of the marinade. Cook 3-5 minutes. Turn the kabobs over and brush again with remaining marinade. Cook another 3-5 minutes or until meat is cooked to the desired temperature. ** Let the kabobs rest for a couple of minutes on a clean baking sheet, then remove from skewers and serve. Serves 4.
* Other good protein choices are beef, pork (cuts such as tenderloin and sirloin are best), and chicken (preferably breast meat), and even large peeled shrimp (3″; tail on or not).
** Cooking times will vary depending on your grill, your choice of meats, and your own taste.
In my cookbook, this recipe is known as Meat on Metal Stick (a.k.a. Lamb Kabobs with Mint Marinade). You can serve this over a rice pilaf or with crusty bread. Any sort of salad or vegetables goes well with this dish, though I doubt that trolls care much for green stuff.
Astrid Tuttle Winegar
Astrid Tuttle Winegar is the author of Cooking for Halflings and Monsters: 111 Comfy, Cozy Recipes for Fantasy-Loving Souls, which is currently available in e-book form on the Amazon Kindle, but will soon be released by Oloris Publishing! Stay tuned for details. Astrid has loved C. S. Lewis since childhood, J. R. R. Tolkien since middle and high school, all Star things, both Trek and Wars, all things Whedon, and many other things besides… She lives in the enchanted city of Albuquerque, New Mexico, with her husband and dog. Her blog can be found at http://halflingsandmonsters.wordpress.com/. You can check out (and like!) her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/halflingsandmonsters or visit her Twitter feed at http://twitter.com/astridwinegar.