Cornish Game Hens with Fig Glaze and Sausage Pilaf…

If you’ve ever had a cornish game hen (also called a rock cornish hen), you know why I made them.  They’re little, cute, and so tasty.  They are not a special variety of chicken, but rather just a young broiler chicken killed at an earlier age than normal.  This yields a more tender meat, both white and dark.  And because they’re small, you can get your own chicken!

I was running late coming home, so my father was nice enough to prep my rice ingredients.  Well, I guess I forced him to, but I’ll give him credit anyhow.

This dinner will all cook at once in the oven.  So it’s great if you’re having guests over and want to stay with them rather than run back and forth from the kitchen.

I used jasmine rice because I love the aroma and delicate rice flavor it has.  Jasmine and Basmati are my favorite rices because of this.  The rice recipe was adapted from Emeril Lagasse’s sausage pilaf recipe.  I like to take a lot of things from Emeril because he was my favorite Food Network icon growing up.

I like using sliced almonds rather than slivered just because of personal preference and it won’t fall through the fork as easily.

I took a simpler approach with the hens to let their flavor come through.  Rosemary and garlic was stuffed in the cavity and salt/pepper covered the outside.  I covered the breast with a slice of prosciutto to prevent it from drying out (and it made a nice crispy treat!).

For the fig sauce, I paired it with port wine because I like the sweetness from port along with the berry notes with it.  I chose figs because, well, I’m on a fig craze right now.  I don’t know why, but it’s all about the fig right now for me.

Cornish Game Hens with Fig Glaze and Sausage Pilaf

Sauce:

2 cups Port wine
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
16 dried figs, coarsely chopped
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 cinnamon sticks
1 T honey
3 T butter, cut into pieces
salt and pepper

In a saucepan, combine first 6 ingredients.  Boil over medium high heat until reduced by half, about 25-30 minutes.  Throw out the herbs and cinnamon.

Pour into a blender and puree until smooth.  Blend in the butter and season.

Can be made ahead.  Cover and refrigerate.  Heat before serving.

Hens:

2 T olive oil
1/2 lb italian sausage, loose
1 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup diced celery
4 t chopped garlic
2 t minced orange zest
2 cups jasmine rice
2/3 cup golden raisins
4 T almond slices (like the salad toppings)
2 T chopped parsely
1 t dried thyme
1 t ground cinnamon
2 t salt
1 t black pepper
4 cups chicken stock
cornish game hens (7 for me)
salt and pepper
fresh rosemary sprigs
garlic cloves (1 per bird)
olive oil

Preheat oven to 350F.  Heat oil in saucepan or dutch oven over medium heat and cook the sausage about 4-5 minutes.  Add onions, carrots, celery and cook another 3 minutes.  Add the garlic and orange zest and sweat for 30 seconds.  Add the rice and stir continuously for 3 minutes.   Add the raisins, almonds, parsely, thyme, cinnamon, salt, pepper, and chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Cover the pot and place it in the oven for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and increase temp to 375F. Rub hens with salt and pepper inside and out.  Stuff each with a clove of garlic and a 2-3″ sprig of rosemary.  Tie legs if needed and rub all over with olive oil.  Roast for 1 hour, glazing every 15 minutes with drippings and fig sauce for the last glaze.  Roast until thigh reads 180 F and breast at least 170 F.

*next up…cinnamon roasted nuts…*

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