I hate to be the one to say this, but you’ve all been lied to all your life about fantasy food. Every fantasy book, movie, show and RPG has somehow drilled into us that every adventurer out on the trail eats stew, which has got to be—hands down—the worst possible meal you could possibly make. For one thing, you’ll need a pot, and preferably a cauldron if you’re cooking for more than one person. Then comes the copious amounts of water, most of which is going to just evaporate away, before we even get to all the ingredients.
And that’s not even taking into consideration the hours upon hours of cooking time, which then requires loads of fuel as well as constant supervision.
So why then ever make stew when you could instead hack off a hunk of meat and simmer it over the fire for a few minutes?
Because sometimes we’re just plain hard up. And while it’s true you can’t get blood from a stone, it is actually possible to eke nutrition from bones.
Our cooks at Bugbear BBQ are no strangers to adventures from back in our dungeon crawling days, and after a few rounds at the old tavern, we discovered that each and every one of us has a recipe for Animated Skeleton Stew.
Now this is never a recipe we’re proud of; rather one born of desperation when all other foodstuff have run out (or run off) and your boots start looking edible. It’s not easy and it’s not tasty, but Animated Skeleton Stew has kept ALL of our cooks alive at some point in time, so we’re going to share it with you.
The problem with your average animated skeleton is that it’s evil magic what’s animating it. And evil magic, that’s fairly problematic on the ol' digestive tract. Now your best solution is for a cleric or paladin to have destroyed said animated skeletons, thus exorcising said evil magic.
If your party is however not fully filled out, fear not; some salt and sage will do the trick. Which is why all savvy adventurers make sure to carry both with them before entering a dungeon.
Now most people expect the long femur bones to be the best "cut" in this case, and that’s true if you’ve got a cauldron with you. But since this is a last-ditch recipe, we’ll assume you don’t. Which means you’ll probably be cooking this in a helm, preferably a half helm due to the lack of eye slits. This means finger and toe bones are your best options.
Or really, anything you can cram into the water.
To also aid with the exorcism of evil, we suggest tossing these bones into the fire until they blacken and crack open. This will also add to the flavor, such as it is.
In terms of flavor, the bones themselves are your best bet. Since, again, we’re at the last-ditch. Salt and sage will help, and you should add liberally. If you happen to have onions, garlic, root vegetables and the like, all the better, but we’re betting those ran out days ago.
One of our cooks insists that any fungus gathered from the walls is always welcome, but considering his eyes never blink at the same time, we can’t really endorse it unless you’re a trained mycologist. And if that’s the case, don't you have better things to do than treasure trawling in a dungeon?
Now that there's some good cookin' headwear!
Fill your pot/ helm to the brim with water, add bones, then bring to a simmer. Cover and then wait for 8-24 hours. Then serve.
Yep, it’s technically that easy. That said, you and your comrades are already probably pretty starved, so making it even the minimum eight hours is going to be a test of resolve. But if you want any nutrients, eight hours is essential.
Sauces, Sides and Pairings
We’re betting anything edible is already in the pot with your animated skeleton bones, so don’t stand on ceremony when you slurp down your offerings right away.
And if you’re the cook and your party members insist on ingesting before the requisite cooking time, we suggest letting them eat anyway lest they start looking at you to pair with their meal.
Because, unfortunately, there’s as many recipes for “long pork” as there are for Animated Skeleton Stew.