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Tolkien Cooking: Gandalf’s Cold Chicken and Pickles

Tolkien Cooking: Gandalf’s Cold Chicken and Pickles by Astrid Tuttle Winegar



I guess (mostly) all of us have a sweet spot for Gandalf in our hearts. He’s wry and witty; magical and majestic—the archetypal wise old man. If you had to hang out with such a person in real life, however, he might be kind of annoying. He’s certainly annoying to Bilbo, who later has to console himself with some biscuits (check out my yummy and comforting orange cookies here: “Bag-End Biscuits”). Gandalf rather condescendingly asks Bilbo to “Put on a few eggs, there’s a good fellow!” then requests “cold chicken and pickles.” Next thing you know, he’ll be patting Bilbo on the head. Insufferable, don’t you think?

“Gandalf’s Cold Chicken and Pickles”



½ cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon mustard seed
¼ teaspoon celery seed
A pinch of salt
½ cup each, all sliced thinly:
seedless cucumber, peeled or not
carrot, peeled
¼ cup slivered red onion
½ pound cold cooked chicken *
¼ cup light sour cream
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 tablespoon coarse ground mustard
¼ teaspoon pepper
⅛ teaspoon salt

In a 1½ quart saucepan, combine the first 5 ingredients. Bring to a boil and stir just to dissolve the sugar. Turn off heat and add the 5 vegetables. Cool ½ hour. Put in a covered 3-cup container and refrigerate for 1 hour. Drain to serve.

Shred, slice, or dice the chicken. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients. Adjust seasonings, if desired. Dollop sauce on chicken or combine as a salad. You may serve this plain with the pickles on the side or as a sandwich with the pickles as a relish. Cover and refrigerate leftovers separately. Vegetables look best the first day; the color fades afterwards. Both keep for 3 days. Serves 2-4.

* You can use chicken (or leftover Thanksgiving turkey) from your own roast or use prepared grilled chicken strips.

This recipe is called Courageous Low-Carb Chicken in my cookbook—yes, it could qualify as a diet food if you are avoiding those nasty (yet delicious) carbs! Huzzah.

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 You can check out (and like!) her Facebook page at or visit her Twitter feed at

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