Contest: Raiding the Kitchen of Orthanc

‘All in good time,’ said Legolas. ‘We were the hunters, and you should give an account of yourselves to us first.’
‘Or Second,’ said Gimli. ‘It would go better after a meal. I have a sore head; and it is past mid-day. You truants might make amends by finding us some of the plunder that you spoke of. Food and drink would pay off some of my score against you.’

Merry and Pippin in Isengard

The quote above is from Flotsam and Jetsam, a chapter in The Two Towers. After epic victories at the Battle of the Hornburg and the assault of Orthanc, Gandalf and the Three Hunters are finally reunited with their companions Merry and Pippin. Part of the broken fellowship is reformed anew, and they celebrate with food and pipe-weed from Saruman’s stores. The Hobbits, ever industrious when food and weed are in the bargain, have raided Saruman’s kitchen and assemble one of the more unique picnics in all of the history of Middle-Earth.

Voice of Isengard smallIt is well known that bears love good food. In my countless Troll-slaying forays into the Misty Mountains, I can work up quite an appetite. For this latest contest, I would like to hear from readers about their favorite recipes. Recipes do not need to be Middle-Earth themed, they just have to be tasty. The contest will run for one week. On Friday, March 14th I will announce the recipe that I like best. The winner will receive a copy of the Voice of Isengard, delivered by special eagle messengers to any destination in the world. Since good recipes are best shared with everyone, I would prefer that readers submit them in the comments below, rather than by email. Good luck to everyone, and may the delectable submissions be enjoyed by all!

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29 Responses to Contest: Raiding the Kitchen of Orthanc

  1. Juan Hernández Sánchez says:

    Spanish omelette or Potatoes omelette

    You need:

    3/4 potatoes
    1/2 onion
    Oil (preferable olive oil)
    4 eggs

    1- Peel the potatoes and slice them in 1cm layers approximately. You should fry them in a pan with enough oil.
    fry them, like fries. Later on do the same with the onion.
    2- In a big bowl shake the eggs. Add to the bowl the potatoes and the onion, add 1 spoon of salt and mix everything together.
    3- Warm a smaller pan with just a little of oil. When it is warm put the fire to medium power and add the potatoes mix. Shake a bit the pan so doesn’t burn. When one side is ready, comes the most skillful movement, using a pan lid, or a flat plate you have to flip the omelette.
    Basically like this:

    And then cook the other side of the omelette.
    4- Cheers!!

    I like it cold with a bit of bread and a beer. Typical spanish tapas

  2. John says:

    Saruman’s Sauerbraten: an easy main dish that will delight your friends and leave you free to whip up side dishes and deserts. Requires no special ingredients, so you can make it even if Orthanc is half underwater and the larder is running low!

    2 pounds of beef (stew meat cut is fine, but you can get fancy if you want)
    1/2 pound of carrots
    1 large white or yellow onion
    2 packages of instant brown gravy mix
    2 cups of water
    1/4 cup red wine vinegar
    4 tbsp brown sugar
    2 tbsp ground ginger
    2 tbsp shortening or lard
    1 tsp pepper
    2-3 bay leaves

    To prepare:
    Set oven to 400 F.
    Cube beef (1-2 inches is fine)
    Cut carrots and onion into large slices.
    Melt shortening or lard in a pan and add beef.
    Cook until brown on the outside and transfer to large glass baking dish. Cover with chopped carrots and onion.
    Using same pan, heat 2 cups of water and 2 packages of gravy mix. Once boiling, set to simmer.
    Add vinegar, ginger, pepper, and brown sugar. Whisk to keep from clumping up. Whisk in corn starch if you want a thicker gravy.
    Carefully pour mixture over carrots, onions, and beef. Set bay leaves on top.
    Cover and back for 60 minutes.

    Sit back and enjoy as delightful scents fill your house, then savor an amazing pot roast with a slightly gingery, sour tinge to it that delights the senses. Goes great with dumplings, a loaf of French bread, or over mashed potatoes. Pair with the deepest red wine you can find from Saruman’s cellar, or a mug of beer as brown as Beorn’s coat.

  3. M says:

    Shepherd’s Pie seems like an appropriately themed dish for an expansion focusing on Rohan.

    Ingredients – topping:
    1 1/4 lbs (500g) Russet potatoes
    dab of butter, salt, black pepper

    Ingredients – filling:
    3 tbsp olive oil
    1 large onion (cubed)
    2 large carrots (cubed)
    1 1/4 lbs ground lamb (if difficult to find, use beef)
    3 garlic cloves (chopped)
    1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
    28 oz canned tomatoes
    50 oz (125g) frozen peas


    1) boil potatoes in large saucepan for 15 minutes (until soft). Drain & return to pan, mash. Add butter, mash again until creamy. Add salt & pepper, set aside.

    2) Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large heavy bottomed pan over medium heat. Add onions and carrots, cook 5 minutes. Add lamb and stir constantly for 10 minutes (at least until no longer pink). Add garlic & oregano, cook for one minute more. Stir in tomatoes and bring to a boil.

    3) Pre-heat oven to 350 F (180 C). Add peas to pan, season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, and then simmer for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.

    4) Pour a layer of lamb mixture into a dish and top with mashed potatoes. Bake for 25 minutes, until brown on top.

    Enjoy a delicious meal!

  4. Tom Drury says:

    Mushrooms and bacon, a la Farmer Maggot. This one’s pretty simple.

    1 lb. bacon (I like center cut best)
    8 oz. sliced mushrooms (Crimini or “baby bella” is my preference)
    Freshly ground pepper to taste
    Bread for toast
    Shredded sharp cheddar optional

    1) Fry the bacon. Keep the grease.
    2) Saute the mushrooms in the bacon grease with a bit of pepper.
    3) Toast the bread. Each piece of toast gets two slices of bacon and a healthy dollop of mushrooms. Sprinkle sharp cheddar if you like and serve.

  5. shaungamer says:

    This one needs a bit of time but worth the wait.
    Everyone loves Aromatic Lamb Shanks.

    2-4 Lamb shanks (enough for 2 people)
    1 red chilies (or substitute green), depending on desired spiciness
    2 shallots (or 1 small cooking onion) chopped fine
    1 thumb-size piece ginger
    2 large cloves garlic
    2 tsp ground Tumeric
    1 tsp ground Cinnamon
    1/4 tsp ground Nutmeg
    1 Tbsp Honey
    2 tsp Soy Sauce
    1 Tbsp Vinegar Cider
    1 Cup Water

    Black Pepper and Salt to taste

    Other Ingredients for Mash base
    1 Potato and Pumpkin piece (or use a large Sweet potato)
    40g butter

    In a deep tray, bake the lamb shanks for 30 minutes in a low oven
    Add the remaining ingredients together (except for the shallots) in a blender and mix in short bursts so it is roughly chopped and combined well.
    Pour mixture over the lamb shanks and cook on low for an hour

    Add the Shallots and cook while making the mash base

    Boil the potato and pumpkin until soft.
    Add the butter and mash until smooth.

    Make a bed of mash on the plate.
    Add 1 or 2 Lamb Shanks.
    Pour the sauce from the tray over the shanks and season with salt and pepper.


    • Mrs. Beorn says:

      Hello Mr. Shaungamer;
      I am Mrs. Beorn, and I have a question for you before I go on to the adventure of recreating this delicious dish: What kind of peppers do you mean by red or green? There are so many types of peppers that I am not sure which one to collect from our farm near the Carrock.

      • shaungamer says:

        Hi Mrs Beorn,
        We normally use Chile de Árbol Chili Pepper (Red), which provides a good heat but still has some flavor. We have also enjoyed the dish with Jalapeño pepper (Green) for those that don’t like their meals too spicy. As I am getting older, I find the green to be the better choice, but it really depends on your preference. (Do not feel the need to experiment outside your comfort zone).
        Hopefully this has helped and I wish you all the best on your adventure!
        Cheers Shaun

  6. Hello,

    This one is so easy to cook that even a large bear with big, clumsy paws could handle!

    ** Chicken breasts with honey and mustard **

    For 2 to 3 people:
    0.5 kg (1 pound) of chicken breasts
    4 soup spoons of honey
    4 soup spoons of mustard
    Enough olive oil / butter to cover a frying pan
    Salt and pepper

    Cut the chicken breasts in small pieces and season them with salt and pepper as pleased;
    Place the olive oil/butter in a frying pan and let it heat up;
    Place the chicken breasts in the pan and let them fry until they’re almost ready;
    Add the honey and the mustard and stir until they’re homogeneously mixed with the chicken;
    Let it cook a 1 minute or 2 and it’s ready!

    Accompany with couscous, mashed potatoes or macaroni.

    Hope you enjoy it!

  7. Patt says:

    This is a recipe my grandmother learned in Morocco, she had to emigrate when she was young to work as a servant for a wealthy man. However, I’ve changed it enough to improve it. Mainly to thicken it and make it spicier.

    Serves 4 humans or 2 dwarves


    – 4 cups chicken broth
    – 3 tablespoons olive oil or butter
    – 2 large onions chopped
    – 3/4 cup unpitted plums
    – 1/3 cup raisins
    – 1/3 cup almonds grounded (preferably roasted or fried almonds)
    – 1/4 cup whole peeled almonds slightly crushed (preferably roasted or fried almonds)
    – 0.35 oz crackers grounded
    – 1/3 cup honey
    – 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    – 2 teaspoon ground cumin
    – 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
    – 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
    – 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
    – 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    – 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
    – 1 and 1/2 teaspoon hot madras curry powder (optional, for an exotic spicy twist)
    – 1 bay leaf
    – 2 garlic cloves smashed and peeled


    – In a medium pot, hot the oil or butter and stir fry garlic cloves, bay leaf and the onions 5 to 7 minutes until golden.
    – Add the rest of ingredients, except for the broth, honey, ground almond and crackers, and stir for a few seconds to release the spices scent. Be careful not to burn them.
    – Add the broth, honey, ground almond and crackers. Mix and bring to a boil.
    – Cook at medium heat for 15 minutes, then low the heat and cook for 30 to 40 minutes until thick and brown.
    – Remove garlic cloves and bay.

    Serve with any roasted meat. I recommend lamb or pork (shoulder or loin) and chicken breast. Also serve with mashed potatoes or, for an exotic dish, with couscous (in that case don’t forget to add curry to the sauce).

  8. nyckk says:


    Sth different, very easy and very suitable for hobbits or rangers alike. It needs some time because it is slow cooked. But you will find it is very, very tasty…

    beef shanks
    (red onions)
    (bay leaves)

    You take some beef shanks (sliced leg of a cow). I’d go with a kilo, or one and a half kilos (just double to get the pounds). Wash the shanks, salt and pepper them (sea salt and crushed black pepper), put it into a casserole. Get a garlic, chop it in half and add it. If you do not like to put it into there unpeeled, just add the cloves. You can add one or two red onions if you want to and several branches of rosemary and two or three bay leaves.

    Add a bottle of red wine, that has some fruity flavor. I’d go for a Chianti. Heavy, fruity, dark, red wine. You will need one bottle, maybe a little more to add later. And you want to drink this wine while eating, so just get three bottles of the same. Do not save money on the wine, the better the wine you add to the food while cooking, the better it will taste later.

    Add crushed black pepper. Add some more. Traditionally you add so much pepper in there that you almost can’t eat this anymore. That’s where the name comes from. Don’t do that for a start 😉

    Then heat up the oven to a low temperature. I’d say 70°C (that’s 160 F), max 100°C (210 F). Put a lid on the casserole and insert it into the oven. You will cook this for at least 20 hours. In the first 3 hours or so nothing will happen, but after some time you will have a nice smell in the kitchen.

    After about ten to twelve hours the meat will beginn to get dark and soft. You want it to fall off from the bone by itself. After 20 hours the meat will get really dark and it should mix up with the fluids to beefy chunks. That’s what you want… It will get even better if you let it cook for another 6 to 8 hours or so, don’t push it. Stirr it up inbetween, add some more wine and taste it. You also can pick out the bones if all the meat has fallen off.

    Serve it with the red wine you cooked it in. And some good white bread. It is a standalone meal but you can easily serve some poatoes, carrots beetroots, etc in addition.

  9. Scott W. says:

    I don’t expect to win with a recipe (although I’d dearly appreciate VoI), but I love this one, and it seems so darned appropriate for a bear, what with the maple syrup and the salmon. I can just picture a Beorning clansman nodding his hirsute head in approval as the salmon he scooped from the river bakes in the syrup he boiled down from tree sap.

    (My comments appear in parentheses.)

    1/4 cup maple syrup
    2 tablespoons soy sauce
    1 clove garlic, minced
    1/4 teaspoon garlic salt (I’ve never used this, and depending on how you feel about added sodium [soy sauce has plenty] you could skip it.)
    1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
    1 pound salmon (I’d remove the skin, but that’s me. I also much prefer a fillet to a steak for this recipe [and in general].)

    (This recipe will be all right with any old syrup or salmon, but the better quality your fish and syrup, the better tasting the result will be. That probably goes without saying, I guess.)

    1. In a small bowl, mix the maple syrup, soy sauce, garlic, garlic salt, and pepper.
    2. Place salmon in a shallow glass baking dish, and coat with the maple syrup mixture. Cover the dish, and marinate salmon in the refrigerator 30 minutes, turning once. (I’d do 30 mins on each side, but I don’t have any real reason for that, now that I think about it.)
    3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
    4. Place the baking dish in the preheated oven, and bake salmon uncovered 20 minutes, or until easily flaked with a fork. (I’ve never tried grilling this. The sugary syrup would probably burn, but you could wrap it in foil if you wanted to give that a shot. Who knows?)

    Have it with some rice, and the rice will soak up any extra marinade. Sooo good.

  10. Kaleb says:

    This is probably a meal a good, stout Hobbit would make on a long journey to Rivendell. It is my original recipe, inspired by one from Chef Alton Brown.

    Biscuit Chicken Pot Pie


    1 pound bulk-style chicken or turkey sausage
    3 tablespoons unsalted butter
    1 talbespoon olive oil
    1/3 cup all-purpose flour
    2 cups whole milk or half-and-half
    1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth/stock
    1 1/4 pounds chicken (preferably thinly-sliced)
    1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    2 sliced whole carrots
    2 sliced whole celery stalks
    1 cup diced mushrooms
    Biscuit Topping:
    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme
    1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    4 ounces grated sharp cheddar
    4 ounces unsalted butter, frozen
    7 ounces buttermilk

    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

    For the chicken: Set in a medium heavy saucepan. Sprinkle liberally with parsley, salt and pepper, cover with water about two inches above chicken and bring to the boil. Reduce to medium-high heat, stir occasionally and cook for about 10-15 minutes until fully cooked. Set on a cutting board and let cool, then shred.

    For the filling: Set a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Crumble the sausage in the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink, about 6 minutes. Add the butter and oil (to prevent butter burning) and melt, stirring to coat the sausage. Sprinkle the flour onto the sausage and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Pour in the milk and chicken broth and scrape any browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Add carrots, celery and mushrooms, bring to the simmer and cook until sauce thickens, about 3 minutes. Add the shredded chicken, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine and set aside while preparing the biscuits.

    For the biscuits: Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, thyme, and cayenne pepper in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.

    Grate the frozen butter using the large shredding disk of a food processor or the large side of a box grater. Immediately add the cheese and butter to the flour mixture. Stir to combine. Pour in the buttermilk and stir just to combine. Add a little more flour just until it forms a loose ball. Dump the dough onto a floured work surface and start folding the dough over on itself, gently kneading for 30 seconds, or until the dough is soft and smooth. Press the dough into a 1/2-inch thick round. Use a 3-inch round cutter (or a 3-inch-wide drinking cup) to cut out the biscuits, being sure to push the cutter straight down through the dough to the work surface. Make your cuts as close together as possible to limit waste. Gather together any remaining dough, pat out again, and cut out as many biscuits as you can in order to get 9 total.

    To build the pie: Set the biscuits on top of the filling, placing 8 around the edge of the pan and 1 in the middle. Bake until the biscuits are tall and golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

  11. TopQuark says:

    From the “old world”, a family staple and good all-round Hobbit…er, I mean peasant food (also good for a bear!): Chicken Paprikash (a classic Hungarian dish). Paprikash is Hungarian for paprika; if available, the smoked paprika is the best in my opinion, but sweet or “normal” paprika will do. Straight from my grandmother’s kitchen, here’s our family recipe:

    Chicken Paprikash (Paprikas Csirke)
    Serves at least 5
    Prep: 1/2 hour
    Cooking time: 1 hour

    1 chicken, cut into pieces, skin on (can substitute all thighs, breasts, etc. but bone in is best)
    2 onions, sliced
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    1-2 sweet green peppers, sliced (or banana peppers, hungarian wax, etc. according to preference)
    1/4 cup smoked paprika
    salt & pepper
    2 Tbsp oil
    3-4 cups chicken broth
    1/2 cup sour cream
    Egg noodles or rice, according to taste

    Salt and pepper chicken.

    Add oil to a stockpot or deep bottomed skillet and fry chicken on medium high heat until skin turns golden brown and slightly crispy (meat does not need to be cooked) and some of the chicken fat has rendered out – work in batches if you need to.

    Remove chicken from pan and sauté onions and peppers until slightly soft. Add garlic, deglaze pan with 1/2 cup of the broth, then add the rest of the broth. Add paprika to the broth, then return chicken to the pot and cover (chicken should be mostly covered with broth – if not, add more). Simmer for 40 minutes to an hour, or until chicken is cooked through and melting off the bone.

    Remove chicken pieces carefully to a serving platter. Stir/whisk in sour cream to cooking liquid. Pour creamed sauce over chicken pieces and serve with egg noodles or rice.

    • Beorn says:

      This looks amazing. One of my favorite dishes is Hungarian Goulash – my brother has a great recipe. I cannot wait to try this out!

      • TopQuark says:

        There are many variations on this dish, just like with Goulash; If you like it, I suggest you use some Google-fu to find some. Our family always uses more paprika than any recipe I’ve seen published, but we’re crazy that way. Enjoy!

        Thanks for the Blog, podcast, etc… I’m new to the game and these wonderful online resources, and look forward to learning as much as I can! (Almost caught up on the Grey Company podcast…)

      • Beorn says:

        This dish did not disappoint. Thank you, TopQuark, for sharing such a delicious dish!

  12. Blake says:

    Here is one of my favorites to make. It’s simple, yet unbelievably flavorful and satisfying. A good one-pot dish one could make, say, over a camp fire while travelling the countryside with a company of friends.

    Chicken Adobo
    Serves 2
    Prep: Approx. 10 min
    Cooking Time: 1 1/2 hours

    2 Tbsp Olive Oil
    4 Bone-In, Skin-on Chicken Thighs (About 2 lb total weight)
    4 Garlic Cloves, minced
    2/3 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
    1/3 Cup Soy Sauce
    6 Whole Black Peppercorns
    2 Bay Leaves
    Steamed White Rice (for serving)

    1) In a Dutch oven or large, heavy-bottomed saute pan with a tight-fitting lid, warm the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, skin-side down, and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute just until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Add the vinegar, soy sauce, peppercorns and bay leaves. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer very gently for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

    2) To serve, spoon a bed of steamed rice onto each plate. Arrange the chicken on top of each, dividing it evenly. Pour the pan sauce over the chicken and serve right away.

  13. Dave says:

    Rosie’s Rocky Road to Mordor Squares

    1 pkg milk chocolate chips
    1 pkg mini marshmallows
    ¾ cup – 1 cup peanut butter
    1 tbsp butter or margarine

    1. In a medium saucepan, melt chocolate chips over low heat. (Tip – don’t leave a spoon in the pot while melting chocolate. The steam condenses on the spoon and causes the chocolate to seize!)
    2. When chips are almost melted, stir in butter and peanut butter until well combined
    3. Add marshmallows, and stir to coat
    4. Pour mixture into 8X8 square pan, and spread evenly back of spoon
    5. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before cutting into squares.

    This delicious concoction is great as a dessert, but is also packable for long road trips. Double the recipe and use a larger pan for those bigger Fellowships. Makes a great snack between Second Breakfast and Elevenses.

    • Beorn says:

      Oh wow, peanut butter and chocolate. It’s like you used a palantir to look into my mind. Mrs. Beorn and I will definitely be making this. Thanks!

  14. TopQuark says:

    You’re welcome! Fun contest, and congrats to the winner. Lamb shanks wins over chicken any day, so you made a good choice! Mrs. TopQuark and I will be trying some of these recipes too!

  15. Pingback: Two Years of the Hall of Beorn | Hall of Beorn

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