Tolkien Inspired Cooking Out of Mirkwood: Tauriel’s Venison by Astrid Tuttle Winegar
Bilbo and company do not meet elves again until after their disastrous journey through the forest of Mirkwood. You’ll remember Beorn warning them not to drink or touch the water here and not to eat the wildlife. Well, of course, circumstances affect judgment, and one dwarf’s physical problems lead to trouble. All dwarves tend to be stocky, but Bombur is quite fat. Accidentally, he falls into Mirkwood’s magical stream. This causes him to fall into a deep sleep and the other dwarves now have to transport him through the forest, which they proceed to do in teams of four.
Now Tolkien disliked allegory (which you can read about in the forward to The Fellowship of the Ring), but the metaphor here in Chapter Eight, “Flies and Spiders” is unmistakable and frighteningly applicable to our modern times. Chubby or plump? These qualities are okay. Morbidly obese? Definitely not. We can sympathize with Bombur, however; when he suddenly wakes, he has actually forgotten everything that had happened since they first left the Shire.
When told all their rations from Beorn were gone, “he sat down and wept, for he felt very weak and wobbly in the legs. ‘Why ever did I wake up!’ he cried. ‘I was having such beautiful dreams. […] I’m just going to lie here and sleep and dream of food, if I can’t get it any other way. I hope I never wake up again.'” His dreams are exacerbated by tantalizingly fragrant hints of real food cooking in the depths of the forest. The Woodland Elves are roasting meat, but they are not keen on sharing with uninvited guests. Chaos ensues and Bilbo and company, instead of finding food, almost become a meal themselves for many of Mirkwood’s giant spiders.
Of course, in The Hobbit, the character of Tauriel does not exist. And whether you love her or hate her, I can definitely see her snagging a beautiful buck and contributing it to a forest feast.
And surely she would have been eager to share this meal with dwarves, especially if she knew that Kili would be one of the guests…
1-1¼ pounds venison (stew meat or from a roast), cut into 2″ pieces (you’ll need 20)
½ cup dry red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot
½ cup mango chutney
1 tablespoon each:
wine from marinade
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon crushed ginger
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2 large apples, peeled and cored, each cut into 8 chunks (for a total of 16 pieces)
Combine the meat and wine in a medium-sized glass bowl. Refrigerate 2-4 hours and stir a couple of times. In a blender or small food processor, combine the next 8 ingredients. Coat a grill with cooking spray and preheat to medium. Coat four metal skewers with cooking spray and alternately thread each with five pieces of meat and four chunks of apple, beginning and ending with meat. Place on a medium baking sheet. Place kabobs on grill and liberally brush with half of the glaze. Grill 3-5 minutes. Turn kabobs over and brush the tops of kabobs; grill another 3-5 minutes, or until meat is cooked to the desired temperature (cooking times will vary depending on your grill, your choice of meats, and your own taste). Let the kabobs rest a couple of minutes on a clean baking sheet, then remove from skewers and serve. Serves 4.
These kabobs will go with any carbohydrate or vegetable you desire. Elves would appreciate salads and other vegetables to go with this meat; unlike trolls, elves undoubtedly do like lots of greenery in their diet. This is known as Tayphro’s Venison in my cookbook.
Astrid Tuttle Winegar
Astrid Tuttle Winegar is the author of Cooking for Halflings & Monsters: 111 Comfy, Cozy Recipes for Fantasy-Loving Souls, which is currently available exclusively in e-book form on the Amazon Kindle, but will soon be released by Oloris Publishing! Stay tuned for details. For now, she is mostly telling a culinary Middle-earth story here on Legendarium. 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. She blogs occasionally at http://halflingsandmonsters.wordpress.com. You can check out (and like!) her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/astridtuttlewinegar or visit her Twitter feed at https://twitter.com/astridwinegar.