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Apart from eating food for nourishment, food is a way of communication. We can all recall hearing the stories and recipes our grandmother used to make. It seems fitting as a way to pass on culinary traditions especially during holidays.

 

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, can one recipe stand out from the rest as being the best? I like to think that no one recipe makes a great Thanksgiving dinner. It is an orchestra, the sum of all the parts. Each dish provides the right note, right texture and the right balance making the entire meal a success.

fall love

In keeping things a little lighter, I made a simple apple juice glaze for the game hens. It worked out very well, even better the second time. Though the glaze is not sweet, it makes a wonderful golden bird with a light, crisp skin.  

Apple Glazed Game Hen Recipe

 

2-24 ounce game hens

 

½ cup apple juices concentrate

½ cup chicken stock

2” piece of cinnamon stick

3 whole cloves

1 star anise

½ teaspoon black peppercorns

 

Preheat oven to 375°F.

 

1. Truss chicken and season with salt and black pepper.

2. Combine remaining ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a simmer.

3. Reduce by half and strain into a small bowl.

4. Brush glaze over game hens and roast for 20 minutes.

5. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F and baste hens with more glaze every 15 minutes until juices run clear.

6. Stop applying glaze so skin crisps just before it in finished.

 

Apple & Sage Wild Rice Recipe

 

1 cup wild rice

3 cups water

¼ teaspoon sea salt

 

½ cup basmati rice

¾ cup chicken stock

¼ teaspoon sea salt

 

3 Tablespoons olive oil

1 small yellow onion, finely julienne

2 large Fuji apples, peeled, cored and chopped

6 large sage leaves, finely chopped

Sea salt to taste

 

½ cup sliced almonds, toasted

¼ cup pomegranate seeds

 

1. Cook wild rice with water and salt until tender, drain off any remaining water.

2. Place basmati, chicken stock and salt in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.

3. Reduce to a gentle simmer and cook covered until water is absorbed.

3. Sauté onions in olive oil on low until translucent.

4. Add apples and continue to cook until just tender.

5. Stir in sage and season to taste with sea salt.

6. Combine rice, apple mixture, almonds, and pomegranate seeds.

Game hens are perfectly sized birds for a dinner of two. Rather than roasting up legs, breasts, thighs or drumsticks, a whole feathery friend at the dinner table can make it a little fancier.

 

Years ago I made this for a quick dinner, serving the bird with a delicate thyme velouté, fresh ripe figs and homemade gnocchi.  Having a partial kitchen to cook in, the dinner was delicious and perfect after the day’s construction tasks.

 

Velouté you say? One of my favorite grand French sauces, which here in America its fancy for gravy. A sauce thickened with flour and butter where stock is added. Gravy on the other hand is sometimes made by adding a mixture of water and flour to the pan juices or stock and simmered to thicken. I do prefer a velouté for its depth of flavor and velvety texture; velouté meaning velvety.

 

Sage White Wine Roasted Game Hen Recipe

 

2 game hens, rinsed and dried

 

3 large garlic cloves, peeled

¼ cup fresh sage leaves

3 Tablespoons dry white wine

3 Tablespoons olive oil

2 Tablespoons fresh thyme

¼ teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

 

8 whole garlic cloves

1 lemon, halved

2 sprigs thyme

 

1. In a food processor, puree the garlic, sage, wine, olive oil, thyme, sea salt and black pepper into a course puree.

2. Rub mixture into prepared game hens and stuff each hen with 4 garlic cloves, lemon half and a sprig of thyme. Tie up legs and fold under wings. Marinate for an hour or overnight. Bring hen to room temperature before roasting.

3. Place game hens into pan and sprinkle with additional salt and pepper to taste.

4. Roast game hens in a 450ºF oven for 15 minutes, reduce temperature to 350ºF and continue for another 45-60 minutes until juices run clear and bird is golden.

Serves 4.

*notes: I often brush roasting birds with melted unsalted butter during the last 30 minutes to enrich their flavor and help the browning process along. Also, if you plan to roast one bird, reduce cooking Roasting at 450ºF oven for 15 minutes, reduce temperature to 350ºF and continue for another 30-40 minutes.

 

 

Delicate Thyme Velouté Recipe

 

2 cups homemade chicken stock [recipe here]

2 Tablespoons butter

2 Tablespoons flour

½ teaspoon sea salt

 

1 medium shallot, diced

1 Tablespoon garlic butter

1 Tablespoon cognac -or- white wine

1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

 

1 Tablespoon heavy cream [optional]

 

1. Melt butter in a pan over medium heat. Remove from heat and whisk in flour. Return to heat and cook to a blond roux, approximately 2 minutes until a toasted aroma develops.

2. Remove from heat and whisk in 1 cup of stock. Return to the heat and whisk in the remaining stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes and skim the surface when necessary.

3. In a small sauté pan, sauté the shallots in butter until softened and starting to brown. Deglaze with cognac and add fresh thyme. Remove from heat and continue to stir to allow the thyme to sweat.

4. Stir shallots and thyme into the sauce. Heat for a couple of minutes to infuse the sauce with the shallots and thyme. Strain the sauce again and press solids against the fine mess of the strainer to bruise thyme for a further extraction of flavor.

5. Bring sauce up to heat and stir in cream or omit.

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