Sunday, October 01, 2006

Herbed Game Hens with Shitake Mushrooms

This is an adaptation of a recipe from the Chef's Top Secrets section of the September issue of Bon Appetit (this "secret" is butter under the skin). The recipe doesn't appear to be available online yet, but if it does appear, I'll provide a link!

The result of this recipe is so good, I am considering serving one of these per person for Thanksgiving instead of turkey. Juicy, flavorful, crisp-skinned and just plain more fun than a bigger chicken. Bon appetit indeed!

Herbed Roasted Game Hens with Shitake Mushrooms:
(recipe adapted for 2)
2 1.5 lb cornish game hens
1/2 cup kosher salt
8 cups water
3/4 stick of unsalted butter (6 tbs)
2 tbs chopped fresh basil
2 tbs chopped fresh parsley
2 tbs chopped green onions (chopped finely, green parts only)
1 garlic clove, minced very fine
1 tsp shallot, minced very fine
1 lemon, chopped into wedges
2-4 twigs of fresh thyme
8 oz shitake mushrooms, roughly chopped
1/2 cup white wine
2 tbs brandy
1 tbs fresh chopped parsley
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Rinse hens inside and out. Meanwhile, mix water and kosher salt in a large pot or bowl. Submerge hens and cover. Chill in brine overnight.

Mix butter, chopped herbs, garlic and shallot into a compound butter. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 425. Remove hens from brine, pat dry. Loosen skin and rub approximately 1.5 tbs herb butter under the skin of the breast, thighs and legs of each hen. Stuff lemon wedges in the cavity of each hen, then tie legs together. Sprinkle hens with salt and pepper.

Place hens on a roasting pan and put in the oven. Roast for approximately 30 minutes, or until temperature reaches 165, then remove and place on a plate, tent loosely - the hen will continue to cook from residual heat, ensuring a safe serving temp, but still preserving juicy meat.

Meanwhile, with remaining herb butter, saute shitakes until brown. Stir in wine, then once nearly evaporated, pour brandy over mushrooms, stir in pan juices (not the chicken fat!) from hens and parsley at the last minute and season with salt and pepper as needed. Place hens on plates, serve immediately with mushroom mixture.

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