Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
Stewed Tauntaun

by SuSu

When Tycho Celchu and other recruits and defectors showed up -- on time -- at Echo Base on Hoth, Wedge Antilles felt it was a significant victory for the rebels. They had taken many losses, and were feeling worn-out by the many near-miss Imperial attempts to destroy them. Lately, the supply convoy had been destroyed on Derra IV, and they were fearful that this "shipment" of former Imperial officers and crack pilots wouldn't make it either. In addition, Commander Luke Skywalker was well on his way to recovery from a Wampa attack; Luke had been hastily appointed after Commander Narra died on that ill-fated supply run, and the loss of two commanding officers so quickly would have been too much for the beleaguered rebels to endure. So Wedge thought he had plenty of reason to celebrate!

Knowing that fresh meat was a luxury (the crews and staff normally lived on ready-to-eat ration sticks and foodboards), Wedge decided to use the meat of a tauntaun that had recently been killed. He commandeered Wes and Hobbie to help, thinking it would take them away from whatever mischief they would normally be up to. They cut up all the meat into 2-inch cubes, patted the meat dry after it had soaked in the marinade, fried up the cubes, put together the sauce, checked it over and over during the cooking process to make sure all was well ... and it was awful! The meat was chewy and tough, and had the weirdest purplish hue to it from the mysterious cans of things and undefined powders the pranksters had dumped into the marinade and sauce. (To be fair, the supplies were meagre and didn't have all the things they needed, so Wedge had allowed Wes and Hobbie to "substitute" at will!)

Poor Wedge! His father and Booster Terrik used to go tracking together from time to time and would make this typical hunter's stew. The young boy would sometimes be allowed to tag along and do as he was told by the two men, and he thought he knew the magical formula. True, there were many steps, but that's the nature of a dish that needs to tenderize tough game meat, and he remembere that it made any sort of wild game taste good! Wedge was relying on his imperfect memory; obviously, between Wes and Hobbie's "additions" and his youthful assumptions, he'd forgotten something. Eventually, Mirax got the recipe from Booster for him, along with a note that tauntaun may not be well-suited to this stew, since it has anti-freeze compounds in its blood that make the meat react differently to heat than expected. No wonder it was so stringy, yet rubbery.

Tired of all the teasing over the years over this failure on Hoth, Wedge made the stew with bantha meat for the Rogues many years later. That was a resounding success, but no one wanted to stop picking on Wedge. They did finally admit that it hadn't as bad as they said -- hungry for real food on that cold planet, the men and women ate every stringy, rubbery bit, and soaked up the purply gravy with dry foodboard. So there!

  • 3 cups wine (red will give it more flavor)
  • 2 ribs celery, cut into 4 pieces each
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 4 pieces each
  • 2 onions, peeled and quartered -- keep the root bit on, so the pieces of onions don't fall apart
  • 10 garlic cloved, smashed and kept whole
  • 1 tablespoon peppercorns, whole
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ teaspoon thyme
  • 2 lbs/1 kg beef, hacked into 2-inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • ½ lb/250 g bacon, chopped
  • 4 shallots, chopped (or 1 onion)
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
Mix together the wine, celery, carrots, onions, garlics, peppercorns, bay leaves and thyme in a large container with a lid (or one you can cover very well with platic wrap), in which the meat can sit overnight in the refrigerator. Add the cubed meat, and make sure all of it is covered in marinade (use your hands here, it's much simpler than trying to stir, or if the lidded container is air-tight, you can close the lid and shake). Allow to marinate in a cool place (like the refrigerator) overnight, about 10 hours.

You need to drain off the liquid from the meat -- the simplest way is to just go in with your fingers and pull the meat cubes out. Also pull out the celery, carrots, garlic and onion. If you can't deal with that, a pair of tongs or chopsticks (don't stab the meat) works just as well. Keep the liquid, and strain it through a sieve. You can throw away the solid bits left in the sieve.

Using paper towels, pat the meat dry, so it can be seared. If you'd like, you can also cut up the vegetables at this point into more edible-sized pieces. They'll go into the stewpot, too.

In a large pot (preferably with a thick bottom, so it retains a lot of heat like a skillet) in which you will cook the final stew, place the butter and oil. Sear the beef to brown the surface, then remove and place in a bowl, and set aside. Toss the bacon into the pot and cook with stirring until the bacon bits are crispy and browned. Add the shallots or onion and sauté till soft and translucent.

Put the mustard over the reserved meat, and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Then put the seared meat back in the pot with the mustard (get it all into the pot, use a rubber scraper if you can). Add the vegetables from the marinade, and then pour in the strained liquid from the marinade that you've kept, and heat it all over a medium-low flame till it starts to simmer. Cover the pot with the lid, lower the heat a bit, and cook for up to 2 hours, but check the pot after an hour. The meat might be done -- it should be tender and the liquid should have turned into a thick-ish gravy. If the meat isn't tender yet, but there seems to be not enough liquid, you can add more wine or water to top it up, and let it keep on cooking. Don't add too much, maybe a cup at a time, or less, depending on how much has evaporated.

Serve with starchy baked or mashed potatoes, or some bread to soak up the gravy. Serves about 8.

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