As you’ve probably learned already, we’re suckers for sales at the grocery store. So, of course, when we saw cornish hens for about 2 bucks a piece, we decided it was a good purchase. This recipe comes from the November 2009 issue of Food and Wine, which just happened to arrive the same day. The original recipe is for 5 hens, and it calls for celery root instead of tiny potatoes. We looked for celery root, but no store around us had it. So, we went with one of our favorite starches from Trader Joe’s- tiny potatoes. The recipe below is mainly from Food and Wine, but just with our tweaks. If you want to see the original, it’s available here.
1/8 cup olive oil
¼ cup pancetta, finely sliced
1/2 medium leek, white and pale green parts only, chopped
1 garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons dry white wine
2 red plums, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch dice
½ cup fresh bread crumbs
1 teaspoon chopped thyme
1/8 cup chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 Cornish hen
1 pound tiny potatoes
1/2 cup chicken stock
Preheat the oven to 400°. In a large, deep skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the pancetta and cook over moderate heat until crisp, about 6 minutes. Add the leeks and garlic, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are softened and starting to brown, about 10 minutes.
Add the wine to the skillet and cook over moderately high heat until reduced by one-third, about 5 minutes. Add the plums, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until just softened, about 5 minutes. Transfer the contents of the skillet to a large bowl and let cool to room temperature. Stir in the bread crumbs, thyme and about half of the parsley. Season with salt and pepper.
Fill the cavity of the hen with the plum stuffing. Twist the wings behind the back and tie the legs together. Spread the potatoes out in a single layer on 2 large rimmed baking sheets. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the hens on top of the celery root breast side up, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Turn the hen breast side down. Carefully pour the chicken stock into the baking sheet, cover with foil and roast in the oven for 45 minutes.
Turn the hen breast side up and roast, uncovered, for about 30 minutes longer, rotating the dish to make sure it cooks evenly. The hens are done when they’re golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the inner thighs registers 160°. Transfer the hens to a work surface and let rest for 10 minutes.
Serve each person a half of the hen, along with the stuffing, potatoes, and pan juices on the side if you wish. ENJOY!