Corned Beef & Cabbage: A Dwarven Feast?

With St. Patrick's Day nigh, we decided to cook a dwarven repast from Heroes' Feast: Corned Beef & Cabbage. It's also an opportunity to spotlight how different cultures express their identity through food in fantasy campaigns.


Corned Beef & Culture​

It's worth pointing out that corned beef and cabbage is associated with St. Patrick's Day in the United States, but that's not necessarily the case everywhere. Cows weren't commonly bred for their meat in Ireland; that came later thanks to expanding British influence. In fact, the term "corned beef" is British:
The British invented the term “corned beef” in the 17th century to describe the size of the salt crystals used to cure the meat, the size of corn kernels. After the Cattle Acts, salt was the main reason Ireland became the hub for corned beef. Ireland’s salt tax was almost 1/10 that of England’s and could import the highest quality at an inexpensive price. With the large quantities of cattle and high quality of salt, Irish corned beef was the best on the market. It didn’t take long for Ireland to be supplying Europe and the Americas with its wares.
As you might imagine, tastes have changed considerably since then. Corned beef in the U.S. is actually made from brisket, a kosher cut of meat from the front of the cow. Because brisket is a tougher cut, the cooking process changes the flavor of the meat considerably to something much more tender than its predecessor. Heroes' Feast specifically recommends brisket for its recipe.


Fantasy Beef & Culture​

Heroes' Feast doesn't have much to say about the recipe other than it's associated with dwarves:
From the mines of the Ironroot Mountains to the halls of the Iron Hills, this savory winter repast is a favorite of dwarves everywhere. Hungry miners will blush pinker than the beef itself when their noses catch the distinct scent of coriander, allspice, peppercorns, bay leaves, thyme, and red pepper flakes wafting from a full-to-the-brim cauldron. Served in a light, tangy broth with generous helpings of boiled cabbage and doused in vinegar, this dish is sure to satisfy the sale cravings of even the saltiest dwarves (just as long as you don't forget the ale).
The recipe calls for pickled spice, which were weren't able to procure in pandemic conditions, so we instead made our own. I also overdid it on the celery (as a new chef, I'm still learning measurements). This meal takes over four hours, so it's not something you're going to whip up for your players just before they arrive to game.

For all the references to salt, the recipe does its best to minimize your sodium intake. The butter is unsalted and the chicken broth is low-sodium, presumably because you'll add the salt yourself.

Overall, the meal was surprisingly tasty. It was spicier than I might have expected, but then we created our own pickled spice so that surely had something to do with it. Some kind of bread would go well with it (Heroes' Feast rarely mentions any sides to go with the recipes). All that said, there's a lot of meat and mostly vegetables so I'll be eating this all week for sure.


Where Do Dwarves Live, Anyway?​

There's a reference to Ironroot Mountains in the recipe's introduction, which is in Eberron in eastern Khorvaire:
The Ironroot Mountains are a stretch of mountains in eastern Khorvaire, lying parallel to the Hoarfrost Mountains and along the western border of the Mror Holds. It is believed that the Ironroot Mountains have some of the richest mineral deposits in Khorvaire. The dwarves of the Mror Holds trade and mine in these mountains, but their operations tend to come under attack by the Jhorash'tar orc clans. Many clans of Jhorash'tar orcs live on the mountains, making it incredibly dangerous for wandering travelers and even more so for any dwarves.
Heroes' Feast also mentions the Iron Hills, eastward of the City of Irongate in Greyhawk:
The Iron Hills are a massive series of highlands extending eastward of the City of Irongate and surrounded by the United Kingdom of Ahlissa to the north and the Principality of Naerie to the south. The Iron Hills are the home of the Kingdom of the Iron Hills Dwur, ruled by King Holgi Hirsute (ml dwf LG Ftr15), who is firmly allied with Irongate. The hills produce very high grade iron ore, and several kinds of precious metals. Gnomes and humans do some of the mining in the area, but the largest and most productive mines are dwarven-run.
There's nothing in either of the above wikis that explains the history of how dwarves came to create such a dish. Given the winding history of how corned beef and cabbage has come to be associated with St. Patrick's Day, a meal like this is an opportunity to tell their story, particularly of a well-traveled people who have faced a lot of hardship.

Your Turn: Is dwarven cuisine different from other meals in your campaign?

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Michael Tresca

Michael Tresca


A suffusion of yellow
Its amusing that you’ve linked this to dwarfs given that its spread has a distinctly naval history - the use of Irish Corned Silverside and Cabbage being one of the famed remedies against Scurvy. I considered Brisket to be an entirely different flavour and so would not recommend its use.

My mother (and by extension myself) was raised on corned beef and cabbage via her father who was a cook in the merchant marines

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Argh, yes, this! It's almost always this bright glowy green in movies.

Anyway, I dig the Zilargo Sazerac. Can't say I'd have thought to do a reverse version of the Sazerac. And as an aside, if you've ever been stuck on what to do with your yolks after separating the egg whites out, my wife discovered this recipe:

Neat, might give them a try sometime but usually give them to the dogs. If you've got an extreme number of them that are probably too much even for the dogs though, pot de creme is a good way to massively overeat with a couple spoonfulls :D

Back to hollywood absynthe myths though. it is not at all even the tiniest bit hallucinogenic. It does however have a seemingly magical "oh my god I think I'm smashed & just started this, maybe I shouldn't try to stand" then 10-15 min later it's gone and your thinking "wow that was really good, can I have another?"

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
There were official D&D rules for alcohol in 3rd Edition. The Arms & Equipment Guide for 3e had alcohol rules.

It treated them as mild poisons that essentially did 1d2 temporary Dexterity and Wisdom damage (that, unlike most ability score damage, wears off at a rate of 1 point per hour, instead of 1 point per day). Most drinks were DC 11, with potent drinks like Dwarven Ale and very potent liquors being DC 13 to 15.
This is honestly the best approach, and I'm sorry that such a solution won't work in 5E using the RAW. I do think 1d2 points of ability score damage is too low, though. People don't get stumbling drunk after two drinks after taking 4 points of Dexterity damage, which definitely happens with some folks.


Reminds me of 80's slop. Pass from me bleah.

Dwarves food to me is probably similar to traditional Scottish and Swiss trype food.

You can farm hills and mountains but you're probably not going to have cast amounts of surplus for export or lots of dairy.

Lamb/mutton, turnips, some herbs, grains etc. Apples maybe.

Probably not much in the way of spices, wine, dairy, potatoes, tomato etc.
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Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
face it. Hero's feast is just another cook book with a little bit of the Realms icing to make fans buy the book.
Aren't most cookbooks "just another cookbook with a little bit of [X] to make [people] buy the book"?

Like, my Japanese cookbook is "just another cookbook with a little bit of Japanese cuisine to make people who like japanese food buy the book"

My Fannie Farmer cook book "just another cookbook with a little bit of everything to make people who want a broad based recipe book buy the book"

Etc etc.


Where are potatoes grown? I thought they were the kinds of things that dwarves would be able to easily grow.

And I suspect most dairy the dwarves farm for themselves is goats.

They came from the Americas irl.

If your fantasy land has access to rice or potatoes yeah larger population than url.

America's and Polynesians had potatoes pre contact.


I think it makes sense for dwarves to eat salted beef for special occasions, since they'd have to trade for it and it would be packed in salt. No need to assume they raised the cows themselves.

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