Back in the finer days, before orcs and cave trolls ravaged the great city of Dwarrowdelf, Balin’s kin would gather for his legendary feasts, which always included his famous Spiced Beef.  Now the dwarven people, as we well know, are a rather proud folk; prone to boasting and very fond of contests to demonstrate their prowess.  Games of one-ups-man-ship between best mates were a daily occurrence.

And so, on the mornings before Balin’s gatherings, it was customary for the elder dwarf to summon a few of the younger dwarves and challenge them with the question, “which of you lads has the sharpest axe, the best aim, and the strongest arm?”

As each one roared, “I DO!,” they snapped to attention, fixing their eyes on Balin’s eyes, planting feet firmly in the soil and crossing their arms over puffed-out chests.  “Well, then,” Balin continued, “it seems as though we have a stalemate – each of you believes he is the best, but only one can be the champion.  We will have a contest.  I plan a feast for tomorrow, and we are short on game.   Go out to the hunt, and bring us back a prize.  The first one to return before nightfall with the largest kill shall be the champion.”

As the young dwarves ran to gather their weapons, Balin would turn to his best huntsmen and, with a wink and a nod from him, the men set about the task of butchering the game they had caught before that morning’s sunrise.  Even if the lads managed to bring back a fox or a few rabbits, let alone a buck, it wouldn’t be enough to fill this hearty and hungry lot.  And it would take hours for the meat to slowly roast until it fell cleanly off the bone.  They would have the day to get at least the first course ready to eat.

The young champion had the honor of being seated next to Balin at the feast, his contribution to the meal now roasted to perfection.  The first bite was Balin’s, who would proclaim that it was the most delicious of all the choices laid out before them.  The cousins and brothers, mothers and sisters, grandmothers and other elders of the company would then cheer the young hunter and dig into the feast.  Strong drink flowed and merry songs of conquests were sung with great gusto. 

Torches were lit from the fire and families slowly went off to sleep, filled not just with food, but the hospitality of their friend and elder, Balin, who was greatly esteemed by all who knew him.

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This is a very delicious recipe that works well in a crock pot but for authenticity why not try a cast iron dutch oven if you can find one.  Add vegetables to make it a stew if you like, and soak up the juices with a crusty garlic bread!  We also suggest shredding the cooked beef for sandwiches to stave off your hunger while you watch the Oscars to see how The Hobbit:  An Unexpected Journey was honored.

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