Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Roasted Cornish Game Hens with Balsamic Glaze

2 Cornish hens (about 1-¼ pounds each)
freshly ground black pepper
5 fresh rosemary sprigs
10 sage leaves
2 fresh or dried bay leaves
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 bunches scallions, trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths (about 2 cups)
1 cup peeled, trimmed, and thinly sliced carrots
½ cup thinly sliced celery
6 slices dried porcini mushrooms
2 cups chicken stock, or reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 T balsamic vinegar
1 T honey

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Remove all visible fat and the neck and giblets from the Cornish hens. Rinse the hens under cold water and pat them dry inside and out with paper towels.

Season the birds generously with salt and pepper, inside and out. Place one rosemary sprig, 2 sage leaves, and 1 bay leaf in the body cavity of each bird.

Heat the oil in a heavy, flameproof roasting pan or very large ovenproof skillet over medium heat.

Add the scallions, carrots, celery, porcini, and the remaining rosemary and sage leaves and cook, stirring, until the scallions are wilted, about 4 minutes.

Smooth the vegetables into an even layer and nestle the prepared birds, breast side up, over them.

Roast, basting frequently with enough of the chicken stock to keep the vegetables well moistened, until the vegetables and hens are golden brown- about 45 minutes.

Carefully tilt the pan and spoon off enough of the roasting juices to measure 1 cup , not including fat. Stir the balsamic vinegar and honey into the measured juices until the honey is dissolved.

Return the birds to oven and roast, basting occasionally with the honey mixture, until the birds are a rich mahogany color and the leg joint moves easily when you wiggle it, about 15 minutes.

Remove the birds from the oven, transfer them to a platter or plates, and cover with a tent of aluminum foil to keep them warm.

Strain the pan juices through a sieve into a small saucepan, pressing as much of the liquid from the vegetables as possible.

Skim the fat from the surface of the sauce, and bring the sauce to a simmer while carving the birds.

With a pair of kitchen shears, cut along both sides of the backbones to remove them. Cut the birds in half and through the center breastbone. Cut each half into leg and breast portions. Arrange the pieces on a platter or plates, and spoon some of the roasting juices over them.

Pass the remaining sauce separately.

Serves 4


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