Roasted Cornish Game Hens and Grapes from Martha Stewart
We all know the saying “The quickest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”. This can also be a fairly speedy route to the female heart as well. Staying in and making your date dinner (or making it together) rates high on the romance scale. You get to show off your creativity and appreciation for nuance & details, even if it’s a simple dish. No different from putting an outfit together. That’s what this series is about. She or he will be left impressed, and you won’t need the skills of Wolfgang Puck.
- Familiar Ingredients: everything should be familiar
- Not So Familiar Ingredients: see above ^
- Number of Pans/Pots you’ll need to make this dish: rimmed non-stick baking sheet (if you’re only making two birds, a non-stick cake or pie pan can be large enough), larger pot for boiling and mashing potatoes in
I don’t know about you, but I’m already starting to think about Thanksgiving. I might be getting ahead of myself, but there is some darn good food to be had on turkey day. And this recipe reminds me of a mini-version of it. (Especially with the addition of mashed potatoes.) If nothing else, this meal definitely fills those fall food desires that start to creep in; hearty protein and carbs, delivered in a warm package.
One of the best things about this recipe? It’s so easy to prepare. Seriously, there’s hardly anything to it. This is a great recipe for the beginner cook. The only questionable element is making sure the hens are fully done, so be sure to have a meat thermometer on hand so you can test them. If you’re not sure how to use a meat thermometer on a whole bird, watch this. Easy peasy. And to keep the experience easy and enjoyable, here are a few tips.
Cornish Game Hens – So where do you get these fancy little birds? Why, out of your local grocers freezer. They’re always located with the other frozen whole birds, namely turkeys. All you have to do to prep them is after defrosting them, take them out of the packaging, give them a rinse under cool water, and pat them dry with paper towels. Martha instructs you to tie their legs together with twine, but these birds are so small that trussing them isn’t really a requirement. If Martha was in front of me she might bitch slap me (at least verbally), but that’s my opinion. I’d recommend 48 hours to thaw them completely.
Shallots – These bulbs usually have two lobes, according to Martha’s site, and should be separated before peeling off the outer papery layer. Martha also instructs to leave the root side of the shallot intact. I did not do that. I’m sure to be slapped now.
Roasted Garlic – This is not part of the recipe, but something I added in to use for the potatoes. Just tuck a few garlic cloves down into the grapes and shallots, and allow to roast with the bird. They’ll get nice and soft, and you can toss them in with the potatoes and mash them to add some tasty goodness to the spuds.
Waiting to be tossed with olive oil and topped with a couple birds
Basting – A warning about the basting; the grapes release sugars, so if you’re using the juices in the pan to baste, you may end up with some burnt juice streaks on top of your hens. To avoid this, just have some chicken stock at the ready, and a few times throughout the roasting process baste the birds with a small amount of stock (like a tablespoon for each bird). This will add more juice to the pan, but that’s ok, since you have to drain juice off of the grapes and shallots to plate them anyway.
Potatoes – Here’s the quick and dirty recipe for the mashed potatoes. Wash and cube about 3 medium (2 large) red potatoes (peel the skin off if you prefer). Place in a pot and cover with water, until the water line is about an inch higher that the potatoes. Add a couple pinches of salt. When the birds are right around halfway done, bring the potatoes to a boil, and keep them going until a fork or knife can easily be inserted through the potatoes (should take about 20-25 minutes start to finish). Drain potatoes, and add them back to the pan if you used a strainer. Mash them with the garlic from the hen pan, plus some thyme and a tbsp of butter or olive oil. Salt & pepper to taste. To add some decadence, stir some blue cheese in.
Final Note: I must warn you, this meal can get a little messy, trying to pick all the meat off the bird, so you might want to make this for someone you already have an established relationship with. For wine, go with an easy drinking red blend, like Pend d’Oreille Winery’s Bistro Rouge.
Sarah is a self proclaimed foodie and regular contributor to theprettyguineapig.com. She’s counting down the days to leftover turkey sandwiches. For more MIFYD posts, click here. Featured photo sourced from marthastewart.com.