Friday, June 10, 2011

Roasted Cornish Game Hen with Herb Butter, Mushrooms, and Shallots

First of all, Omicron Mu Gamma,* Cornish game hens are so darn cute, and they are just enough meat for two meals (at least, they are for me; I am a light meat-eater). Bonus, you have bones for a light chicken stock. But mostly the cute factor, as this hen fit perfectly into my new...

Le Creuset Dutch (or French, if you prefer) oven! Thank you, two years of hoarding Westlaw points.

I roasted the hen using some compound butter I made a few months ago, using chopped lemon balm from the U of M edible garden, dried thyme, and a stick of softened unsalted butter. Mash these all together, re-form into a log shape, wrap in plastic wrap, stick in a ziploc bag, and freeze. It will last a few months. (For some other fun compound butter ideas, check out Design*Sponge's recent post.)

This hen came from West Wind Farms.

Roasted Cornish Game Hen with Herb Butter, Mushrooms, and Shallots

1 Cornish game hen, cleaned and dried
3 tablespoons herb butter
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 cup button mushrooms, washed, stemmed, and quartered (mine were actually marinated mushrooms left over from the SO's birthday party. Repurposing!)
2 large shallots, sliced thin

Slide your hand between the hen's meat and skin to loosen the skin. Rub two tablespoons butter under the skin. Liberally salt and pepper the cavity, then throw another tablespoon of butter in there. Salt and pepper the outside. Tie the legs together loosely. Okay, good. Now stick it back in the fridge to rest for a little while, at least an hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a dutch oven over medium heat, heat two tablespoons olive oil. Place the hen, breast side down, in the dutch oven. Sear until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Flip hen so that the breast faces upward and sear another 5 minutes. I then flipped the hen again to cook breast-side down, because I like my white meat to be all submerged and juicy like that. Cover the dutch oven and place in the oven. After 25 minutes, remove the lid. Roast the hen until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thigh reads 170 degrees. I don't have this kind of a gadget yet, so I roasted until the juices from the thighs ran clear (not pink or red!) when poked with a knife. This took about an hour total (35 minutes more after removing the lid from the dutch oven).

The hen should be all nice and brown, and look vaguely like it's praying for its life. Remove the hen from the dutch oven, place it on a cutting board, and loosely tent with aluminum foil.

Now make the mushrooms! If you used the appropriate amount of butter, there should be plenty of melted butter left in the pan. Place the dutch oven over a medium flame. I deglazed mine a little with white wine and scraped up the brown bits, then added the sliced shallots. Saute the shallots until they become a little limp, then add the mushrooms. Saute until the mushrooms are soft, about 5-6 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Plate the mushrooms, place your carefully deconstructed hen parts on top, and also have a cream biscuit to soak things all up. Oh, yes, more white wine, too. The hen was so flavorful and, well, buttery. The leftovers reheated well for lunch the next day, too.

In other news, this year's garlic harvest is finally in and cured, and it's a beaut:

*either it's obvious or it's not.

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