Winterveil is really ramping up, and I gotta say, I am enjoying it immensely. I’m going to be honest, this is my very first Winterveil and I was really nervous about it. I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t know what was coming. Big dude in a red suit knows if you’ve been bad or good? He knows everything about you? He can see into your soul and judge your sins?!
Yeah. Kinda terrifying.
But I spent some time in Silvermoon this week with my brother Vyn and his fiance. I asked him if he wanted me to make a traditional Winterveil dinner for them but he said no.
He wanted Happy Troll.
Some background, I guess. Happy Troll is a dish that goes by many names. Farmer’s Delight, Spinach Fandango, a few others. But after Katychla made it once for a group of cranky trolls and their bickering dissolved into the happy grunts of eating, the new name stuck. Happy Troll.
Whenever I’m sad or lonely, this is the food that comforts me. It’s really flexible, so please please experiment with this one. I would love to know what changes you made, so if you try it, comment below and let me know your version!
I’ll explain as I go through a few of the ways you can make this more economical or fancier. I decided, since it was a special occasion (and let’s be real, I was totally trying to show off to my big brother) that I was going to be a bit Extra this time. So documented below is the really fancy version, but I will explain how to make it easier.
And here’s today’s cast! You will need 1 lb (1/2 kilo) of some sort of meat. I used beef that I brought from Stormwind. Beef is a bit exotic up north, there’s not a lot of cattle and… ya know… Tauren are very tolerant… is that racist? I dunno. I have also made this with ground poultry or even tofu. I made it once with cauliflower actually, so it’s possible to make vegetarian. If given the option, use tofu over califlower for vegetarian.
You will also need a large onion. I finely chop mine because I learned a new chopping technique that makes me feel fancy, but you could hack it up orc style and be fine.
One bunch of spinach or similar greens. I like to use fresh. If you can’t find fresh, one pack of frozen will work, just make sure you thaw and squeeze the liquid out first.
About 8 oz (225g) of mushrooms. This is technically optional, I love mushrooms, Sister Anders says that Vitamin D is good for depression and shit but that’s getting kinda personal. It also helps stretch the overall food out. So use it if you like mushrooms, it won’t destory it if you don’t.
You want another 8oz (225g) of cultured cream (also known as sour cream). You can find this at most grocers but failing that, most farmers that have any sort of dairy animal will usually have this. If they sell butter, they probably have this.
You also need about… I dunno, 2 cups of cheese? Shredded. A big handful for the middle, and then enough to cover the top. Use whatever type you have. This time I used farm cheddar, but in Stormwind there’s this place that sells pre-shredded stuff specifically for casseroles (which I guess this is?) and it melts and browns really nicely so I use that at home.
And the biggest change this time, is the cream of whatever soup. Normally I use ration cans and just grab whatever sounds good. Mushroom, celery, strider, whatever is available. But this time I made my cream of mushroom soup from scratch. Because I am showing off. Because I am Extra. Because it is crazy easy. You can find out how to make Cream of Mushroom soup in my Green Bean Casserole recipe. I make it all the time now.
So preheat to about 375/190, then get your beef browning, chop up your onions and mushrooms. Then add them in with them. Don’t do what I do, I crowded the bejeebus out of the pan. But it still worked. Whatever.
You want to brown the meat but sweat the onions, so I usually throw the onions and mushrooms in when the meat is about half browned. The mushrooms soak up a lot of the flavor of the meat as they shrink down, Vyn says he loves the texture it gives it.
Once it’s about cooked, about the last 30 seconds or so, add some spices. Get creative and be brave, but this one I made with dried thyme and oregano, as well as a healthy dose of crushed garlic. You really can’t mess this up, I bet it’d be great with some heat to it.
While that’s going, shred your cheese and chop your greens. I like to keep my shredded cheese separate, half for the meat mix, half for the top.
Rinse your greens, I find it’s easier AFTER I’ve chopped it, but your mileage may vary. Once the meat is done, drain it (my worg Oshu loves it in her kibbles) and transfer the meat, mushroom and onion into the pan.
Here’s another point of divergance. You can mix this all in the same container IF: 1 – You are using a ration can or already have pre-made cream of whatever and 2 – your container is big enough. Duh. Still drain it either way.
Mine was not big enough, so I moved it into a separate dish for baking. I added in the first handful of cheese and mixed it up, then covered to keep warm.
At this point, you want to add your sour cream and your cream of whatever. But if you’re being extra like me, this is where you make the cream of mushroom.
Quick recap. Dice up the mushrooms as fine as you can. This time I used white mushrooms, I didn’t have Northern brown button mushrooms. Throw them in a pan with about 3 tablespoons of melted butter and a healthy sprinkle of salt. Let them sweat down, then add a shot of your booze of choice, I use cognac cuz it’s what I have, and deglaze by scraping up all the fond with a wooden spoon. Flambe if desired.
Once that’s done, throw in a spoon or two of flour, mix it into a dough, then add 1.5 cups (300 ml) of broth, I used garlic but use what is available, and 1 cup (240 ml) of cream. If using yak, use milk instead. Add them into the mix and stir well, then let it simmer. You want it to thicken and reduce, that seems to take around 5-10 minutes. Just kinda watch it, it’ll darken nicely and stick to a spoon. Then bam! You’re done.
If you’re being extra, once the soup is made, add the sour cream and then the spinach. If you’re not being extra, mix the soup, sour cream and spinach. You then want to simmer it until it’s well combined and the spinach starts to wilt.
If you’re using the one pot method, then it’s already all combined and it’s time to move it into a baking dish. If you’re doing the Extra method, combine this with your meat and stir to incorporate.
Mine turned out a little on the saucy side this time, but you know how to fix it? You serve it with rice. Make use of that sauce — ah shit I’m drooling as I’m trying to write.
Spread the remaining cheese on top and it’s ready for the oven. This is the hardest step. It is absolutely necessary. By this point your house smells insane and both Vyn and his fiance keep coming over to ‘check’ when in secret they’re trying to get tastes. I guess that’s better than them thinking I’m burning the place down.
Sorry to disappoint, bro. The little runt you picked up off the streets is actually good at something now. Weird, right?
So stick it in the oven, I sincerely recommend getting some rice going (we always use Darkspear long grain but any kind would do) and let it get warmed through and the top nice and browned.
Sadly, I didn’t get a picture of the final product for a number of reasons. The farm cheese didn’t brown up as nicely as I’d liked, and as soon as it came out of the over, Vyn’s fiance was trying to get a spoon into it. And she is much bigger than me.
Scoop some rice into your bowl, add some Happy Troll on top, and find out why it’s the best kept secret of the Horde.
And remember that family isn’t always blood. Take the time to let the people you love know you love them. I love you, Vyn.
- 1 lb (.5 kilo) meat of choice
- 8 oz (225g) mushrooms
- 1 large onion
- 1 bunch of spinach or greens (if using frozen, make sure to thaw and squeeze)
- 1 large handfulls (about 2 cups) of shredded cheese of choice
- Cream of whatever soup (Making from scratch is awesome, but can use a ration can. Don’t add the water/milk, just use the condensed part)
- 8 oz (225g) of soured cream
- About a teaspoon of thyme
- 2 cloves garlic
- Preheat oven to 375F/190C
- Chop the onion, mushrooms and spinach
- Brown the meat about half way, drain
- Add the onions and mushrooms, finish browning.
- Drain again. Add spices and garlic and heat for about 30 seconds until fragrant
- Add in soup (if not making from scratch, see post for scratch instructions) , sour cream and half of the cheese. Stir to combine
- Add in the greens, simmer until beginning to wilt
- Transfer to baking dish, cover with remaining cheese
- Bake about 15 minutes or until top is bubbly
- Serve with rice and share with those you love