While BBQ joints the worlds over each boast the best hippogriff you've ever tasted, true BBQ connoisseurs know the real litmus test for a pitmaster's skill is simple ol’ troll. If you've ever tried to trim a hunk of troll, you'll understand why: the meat is notoriously tough and rubbery due to the troll's (in)famous ability to regenerate.
But it's this same regeneration that keeps the cost of troll so low. Because every bestiary butcher out there keeps at least one troll chained in the basement, slicing off hunks whenever a customer comes calling, then letting the monster regenerate the missing limb. This is why troll meat is always at least a tenth the cost of hippogriff, and also ten times as dangerous to cook.
I mean, have you ever heard about any other creatures' animated limb running away or trying to strangle you in your sleep?
Yet I assure you, smoked troll, if prepared properly, is a real delight that will make mouths water for miles around. This, along with its low cost, is why troll is one of the “Big Three” categories pitmasters must master if they intend on winning barbecue competitions.
And if you want award-worthy smoked troll that will make you the envy of all your friends and enemies, let me walk you through the process.
Not only are they good for cookin', apparently trolls are also fair cooks.
Even a chained troll is dangerous, so bestiary butchers minimize their risk by hacking off whatever’s the easiest to reach, usually the foreshank (arms) or hindshank (legs). These are the most common troll cuts, though you’ll also often see other back cuts consisting of rump, sirloin or short loin. These back cuts are more common than front cuts because there’s less a chance of a chained and unhappy troll ruining your day if you approach it from the back (I will note this is also true for both dogs and girlfriends). Front cuts consisting of the brisket (pectoral muscle), are far less common, and their prices reflect that fact.
But no matter what cut you get, it will surely be a big hunk o’ meat. And let me assure you, they all pretty much taste the same if you’ve done your job correctly. So don’t let that willy butcher upsell you, and just buy whatever’s the cheapest.
That said, pay the extra few bucks for the butcher to trim the cuts there in the store. Because, let me tell you, nothing is more dangerous than trying to trim meat that’s still wriggling.
Although I usually prefer a dry brine consisting solely of salt, for trolls one must mix acid in with the salt to counteract any errant regeneration. Dragon or giant frog acid is traditionally used, but I've found that a strong apple cider vinegar will do in a pinch. Mix equal parts acid and salt, then smear this over the meat at least 24 hours in advance at 1/2 teaspoon (tsp) per pound.
And definitely make sure to wear gloves when handling the acid mixture; safety is always our top concern at Bugbear BBQ!
Also, I strongly suggest googling "Melf's Acid Arrow" rather than "Milf's Acid Arrow." Just sayin'.
After the dry brine is complete, it's time for the rub proper: Mix 2 tablespoons (TBS) black pepper, 1 TBS white sugar, 1 TBS garlic powder, & 2 tsp pixie dust (chipotle powder will do as a substitute, but double it). Again, spread over the meat at 1/2 tsp per pound, and if you want a delicious bark, spread it on at least 3 hours before the cook itself.
Because troll is so tough, it needs to be cooked low and slow; almost like a brisket or joint of Jotunn. So prep your smoker to 225 degrees with four to six ounces of wood for smoking. Oak is traditionally used, but I prefer to add pecan for a richer flavor. But if you happen to have some Yggrdrasil wood lying around, use that instead for a nice touch of Norse and hint of nihilism.
NEVER use mesquite! It's just too strong and overpowers the natural troll flavor.
Like brisket, or any other large piece of meat, the target internal temperature is 203 degrees, which means the cook can take 12-18 hours. So make sure to have your favorite novel and a six-pack of beer nearby.
A leave-in thermometer is best for knowing when the meat is done, but barring that, the fork test will do: Jab your fork in and give it a twist. If the meat easily gives way, it's done. If the meat recoils and either tries to run or hit you, then it needs to stay on a few hours more.
Not quite done, but at least it's stopped wiggling.
Sauce, Sides, & Parings:
If you've smoked your troll correctly, no sauce is necessary. However, I've found a smattering of the drippings from carving to be a nice addition, and a good Kansas City sauce is always acceptable, but never ideal.
Serve with sautéed asparagus, toasted sourdough, and Otik's Spiced Potatoes.
Troll pairs well with either a red Elvish wine, stout beer, or dark lager. But my personal favorite is a Dwarven Double Bock, preferably one flavored with a drop of gorgon venom for a little extra kick. Sure, depending on your constitution you risk a few hours paralysis, but nothing else makes each bite of troll pop like it, so it's well worth the risk.