Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
Secret Honeymoon Picnic Basket
by SuSu, MaceVindaloo, Rosie

Menu: Very Easy Pâté with Crackers | Boneless Stuffed Trussed Cross-sliceable Chicken: Boning a Chicken and stuffing it with Mushroom Stuffing | Herb Salad, Seasoned with Love | Watermelon Juice | Stolen Plum Galette

Right after the ceremony which bound Leia Organa to Han Solo in matrimony, they endured the formal reception with its protocol and many speeches. People assumed they left for their honeymoon immediately and thus their disappearance from public view, but they actually spent their first night as a married couple snoring with exhaustion! They exited the reception hall, switched speeders several times, had body doubles as decoys ... so by the time they got to the former Imperial Palace, only their final driver knew where they really were.

No one suspected that their driver was Leia's companion-at-arms, Dame Winter, who had been Leia's decoy all her life; this time, however, she was the only security officer Leia trusted to bring her and her new husband home. Evidence her thoughtfulness: Winter had stashed several changes of clothing in the speeders for them to help with the deception and had dealt with the housekeeping aspects of their new apartment, but most importantly, she had prepared a picnic basket for them, so that they could share a simple meal together when they felt up to it. It was a welcome change from the rich fare they'd were forced to imbibe at the reception.

When they awoke many hours later, they finally managed to consumate their marriage — and they were ravenous from hunger! They found the basket full of food and memories, and the two talked about the many good things Winter had thoughtfully packed, with the help of Chewbacca. And though very much in love and amazed to have this private time together, they were both very grateful to their best friends for having provided clean sheets and a delicious indoor picnic meal. And they loved not having to go out at all for a couple of days!

Menu: Very Easy Pâté with Crackers | Boneless Stuffed Trussed Cross-sliceable Chicken: Boning a Chicken and stuffing it with Mushroom Stuffing | Herb Salad, Seasoned with Love | Watermelon Juice | Stolen Plum Galette

Very Easy Pâté with Crackers
Winter recruited Chewbacca to help with preparation of the post-wedding picnic for Leia and Han. When Chewie heard that Winter would be making chicken, he asked what she'd do with the livers? He told her that if they were roasting a joint of meat, they'd often take the liver — which cooks quickly — and would make a quick paste with it to spread on crackers as an meal starter, so that Chewbacca's appetite would be curbed and he wouldn't be tempted to eat the meat before it had cooked well enough for Han's taste. This is a very non-fussy recipe with proportions based on how much chicken liver is available. Winter thought it was a good reminder to Han and Leia of Chewbacca's love for them, so she included a pot of pâté and a container of crackers in the picnic basket.
  • 1 part chicken fat (take from the vent or neck), chopped up
  • 1 part chicken liver, cubed (not too small)
  • 1 part shallot or onion, minced
  • garlic, minced, to taste
  • ground thyme or leaf thyme, to taste
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
Place the chicken fat pieces in a cold pan and place over low heat to render the fat. When the fat pieces are golden brown and the fat nearly all melted out, add the shallot or onion, and the garlic. Continue to cook over low heat till the vegetables are transparent. Add the liver, thyme, salt and pepper and cook till the liver is cooked but still pink inside. Remove from the heat and either force through a sieve or process in a blender or food processor till smooth. Scrape out into a small bowl and adjust seasonings to taste. If you plan to eat it immediately, season to taste while warm. If you will chill it first, season it a bit stronger, since cold blunts flavors. Cover with plastic wrap till needed.

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Boneless Stuffed Trussed Cross-Sliceable Chicken
As a child, Leia loved this version of roast chicken. The chef would bone all the flesh off the carcass so that it was just a hollow "tube," which would be stuffed with a mixture of stale bread and vegetables, rolled up, tied so it forms a roll, then roasted in a hot oven. When it was served, the chef would invite them into the kitchen and the chef would let the girls carry in the roast and carve it at the table. Leia made a big show of clanking the knife against the sharpening steel, then — in a maneuver which seemed like magic — cut RIGHT ACROSS the roast. Leia's aunts would always gasp, thinking she was going to stab herself or someone else, or that she was hacking through bones and leaving splinters in their servings. Chewbacca chortled when Winter told him this story, and he asked her to make it so he could learn how to do this magic to teach to the Solo children when the time came! (Winter pointed out that this is a great adult way to serve a whole roasted chicken, since carving and plating it was really easy at the table.)
    Mushroom Stuffing
  • 1 oz / 30 g dried porcini mushrooms
  • ½ cup hot water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 5 large white button mushrooms, chopped fine
  • 1 sleeve Ritz-style crackers, about ¼ lb / 100 g, crushed fine
In a bowl, place the dried mushrooms (it's okay if they're broken or flakes) and pour the hot water over it. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to hydrate. When softened, squeeze out the liquid and save it for another use (like Lorien Mushroom Risotto or soup stock) and chop the mushrooms fine.

In a skillet, heat the oil and melt the butter over medium low heat. Cook the onions and garlic till they become soft and translucent. Add the white button mushrooms and cook till the liquid exudes, then add the hydrated dried porcinis. Cook till the liquid evaporates — you'll be able to hear the mushrooms frying when the liquid is gone (instead of a boiling noise). Add the crushed crackers and mix thoroughly. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

To remove the flesh off the carcass of the chicken:
Remove the giblets from the cavities of the chicken. The bones and gizzard can go into soup stock and the liver can be used in the Very Easy Pâté. Wash the chicken thoroughly — inside and out — with warm water. Drain completely. Be sure you don't rip the skin.
Cut off the wing bones at the "elbow" and put those bones in the stock pot (all bones should go toward stock, even if you have to freeze them till you have time to make stock). Lift up the skin by the neck (at the top of the breast) and make two slits alongside the wishbone prongs, then pull the wishbone out of the breast. (The breastbone is often broken, so be careful not to poke yourself with the broken tips!)
Flip the chicken breast-down on the cutting board and make a slit through the skin down the center of the backbone. Pressing the knife against the bones of the carcase, cut the meat away from the bone. When you get to the shoulder joint; cut through the joint to separate it from the ribs.
The meaty "oysters" are located alongside the backbone near the thigh balljoints. Cut these off the bone, then put the chick on its side, fold up the leg then pull the "knee" the open it out till you hear the balljoint pop. Cut through the joint to separate it from the rest of the carcass.
To remove the wingbones from the meat, cut the tendons around the shoulder joint, then scrape the meat off the bone, by scraping against the bone. You can leave the wingbones attached to the carcass.
You can pull the meat right off the carcass by pulling the bones away from the breast meat. Use a clean kitchen towel to grip the slippery meat and bones more securely. The mignon or "fingers" will stay on the carcass. You can cut or pull these off after and set aside.
The bones of the thigh need to be removed by first cutting along the line of fat running the length of the inside of the thigh from the hip end of the femur to the knee. Scrape the meat off this bone, then cut it off at the joint.
The very bottom of the drumstick needs to stay in the flesh to keep that meat from shrinking back and to provide an anchor for trussing. To remove the rest of the bone, use the back of your knife to crack the bone nearest to the "footjoint" of the chicken, the scrape/pull the meat out the other side of the drumstick.

Assembling the Roast
Heat the oven to 400°F / 200°C.

Spread out the chicken meat skin-side down. Use the two mignons to fill in the region between the bottom of the breast and the top of the thigh, where there is little or no meat. Push some stuffing into the hollows of the legs and arms, then spread the stuffing evenly over the meat, and mounding it in the center between the breast fillets.

Bring the skin on the side up to the center, over the stuffing. You can skewer it shut to hold it if you wish. Then pull the skin of the neck up and over to enclose the stuffing on top.

Using butcher twine, tie the "ankles" of the bird together, crossing them over each other. Be sure to leave at least 3 inches of twine off the end. Tie the chicken with other pieces of string at 1 to 1½ inch (2½ to 3¾ cm) intervals, but you can cut the ends off quite short. When done, take a length of string nearly 3 times the length of the chicken, and tie one end to the extra length left by the legs of the bird. Pull the string under each of the intervals then up and around to loop it around the cross-piece. Continue up the length of the roast, then flip the bird over and continue down the other side. When done, tie it off with the same bit of string by the ankles. Trim short.

Place the chicken in a roasting pan and cook in the hot oven for about 30 to 40 minutes, or till a meat thermometer reads 150°F / 66°C and the bird is nicely browned. Let the meat rest for about 10 minutes before carving; cover it with foil to keep it warm.

To serve, cut the string and slide it out from under the roast — be sure to get all the string. Remove the skewers as well. Place the roast o a platter to cut at the table (it impresses people to see the roast presented like this). Cut the meat with a sharp knife across the roast, so you get cross-section slices of meat rolled around the stuffing. The slices are cut ½ inch / 1 to 2 cm thick for elegant looking servings, but you can cut them thicker like steaks.

Serves up to 8 or 10.

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Herb Salad Seasoned with Love
Believe it or not, this is a recipe from the days following Han's emergence from carbonite. After he, Leia, and "the fellowship" had escaped Jabba's palace, Han found he was malnourished from the stress of the escape, the year or so in carbonite, and his general lack of good eating habits preceding his imprisonment. Leia and Chewbacca went to a lot of effort to find fresh produce for Han, insisting he eat it at least twice a day till his symptoms diminished. Though Han complained loudly, he actually found himself craving the salad when the treatment was over. Why? Instead of pallid lettuce, this delicious salad was seasoned with love and concern — in this case, it took the form of red-ripe tomatoes, pickled salmon (lox or gravlax), and wood-smoked bacon, with croutons fried in the bacon fat. The nutritious herbs were parsley and arugula, but any leafy herbs you love would be wonderful, too. Try not to use more than three different herbs at any one time or the effect might be overpowering.

  • 4 strips thick cut, hickory-smoked bacon
  • 2 rolls, a bit stale
  • 4 oz / 120 g of baby arugula leaves
  • 4 oz / 100 g parsley, about a bunch
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 4 very thin slices lox or gravlax
Cut the bacon into ½-inch / 1½ cm chunks and place in a cold pan over medium low heat. Cover it and cook slowly till the fat is rendered and the bacon is crispy. Cube up the stale rolls and add the bread to the bacon fat and toss till browned and crispy. Remove from the heat.

Pick the stems off the arugula and parsley and wash and dry thoroughly. (Save the parsley stems for soup stock, of course!) Toss and place on a platter. Scatter the bacon and fried bread over the top, then halve or quarter the cherry tomatoes and add that over the top. Stack the lox slices together, roll them up into a tube, and slice thinly to make a sort of "noodle" and scatter those over all.

This salad doesn't really need a dressing. Serves 4 to 8, depending on if it's the meal or a starter course.

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Watermelon Juice
This is one of the very first things Leia and Winter learned how to cook in the nursery they occupied. They'd often forget to put the lid on the blender and make a horrendous mess, but it delighted Leia no end!

  • 1 "sugarbaby" watermelon (a spherical, seedless variety)
Chill the watermelon. Cut up the watermelon and cut the rind away and discard it. Cube up the watermelon so it fits into a blender or food processor. Process or blend on "puree" or "liquify" speed a few cubes at a time — if you overfill it, the stuff on top won't liquify. Add more watermelon as the stuff in the blender or workbowl liquifies. Pour into glasses, serve with a straw. One small sugarbaby watermelon serves 4 to 6.

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Stolen Plum Galette
Leia was a precocious child who revelled in challenging those who were responsible for her. They told her not to climb trees, not to steal, not to get dirty, not to get lost. By picking sweet prune plums off a tree deep in the far orchards connected to the Organa palace, she accomplished all four of these things, much to her glee and to her guardians' chagrin. Winter would always come to her defence, saying Leia had picked them for her ... and to make the lie into a truth, they'd beg the chef to help them make this simple tarte to serve to Leia's caretakers at dinnertime. The chef, who enjoyed the girls' antics, would keep frozen pie crusts for just these sorts of occasions.

  • 1 refrigerated piecrust
  • 10 prune plums
  • sugar, for dusting
  • milk, for a wash
Heat the oven to 350°F / 175°C.

You can make a piecrust or buy a refrigerated crust, the kind that comes in flat discs, usually folded into quarters. They come two to a packet, and freeze very well. If you have been storing your piecrust in the freezer, take it out of the box but leave it in the plastic wrap out on the counter for about 20 minutes to thaw.

Cut the plums along the long axis, split them and remove the pit. Cut the plums into quarters, the long way.

Line a 8-inch cakepan with foil, then lay out the piecrust so it's centered. Lightly tamp the dough so it's places down against the inside corners. Sprinkle the bottom with sugar, then lay the pieces of plums in a symmetrical manner on the bottom of the crust. Sprinkle with more sugar.

Fold the dough over the plums, taking care to fold lightly and artfully. Paint the top surface with milk as a wash, then sprinkle over with sugar again. Place in the oven till the galette is well browned and the sugar is a bit melted and shiny. Cool to room temperature before lifting out with the foil. Cut into wedges to serve. Serves 4 to 6.

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