Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Roasted Cornish Game Hen with Red Onion Marmalade and Mashed Rutabaga

I love the growing awareness of the importance of food in relation to culture, communities and their personal lives… the awesomeness of  Community Shared Agriculture (CSA), seasonal eating, local produce and farm-to-table eating and what it does to the  local economy and the well-being of people.  I tell you, if you want to see happy people and family very early in the weekends, visit one of your local farmers market!  You would think that the world was taken over by a mob of morning persons!  Caffeinated or not, they seem genuinely happy.
I love mashed rutabaga, it's like the outlandish cousin of the mashed potato.  The Irish did right to this vegetable.  To read more about this wonderful root vegetable, read The Advanced Rutabaga Studies Institute.
This red onion marmalade recipe is sooo good.  I can eat this s**t by the spoonful, I kid you not!  But then again, I restrain myself from doing that since the onion smell tends to stay with me for a couple of days.  I use it to garnish bratwursts, hotdogs or burgers; glaze for porkchops, porkloins, lamb or vegetables; great with cheese plates— goes  very well with creamed goat cheese and pickled tomatoes.  They keep for a week or two in the reefer.  Just reheat, stirring, to warm before using.

Roasted Cornish Chicken can be prepared in an hour (you can prepare the brine the night and brine the chicken before leaving work in the morning).  Served with Mashed Rutabaga, Red Onion Marmalade and Sauteed Mushrooms (I used Julia Child's recipe), you will bring work week dinner to a different level.

Roasted Cornish Game Hen
2 1 to 1¼ lbs cornish hen, rinsed


2 quarts water
½ cup kosher salt
¼ cup brown sugar
½ t. freshly ground pepper
Zest of 1 lemon
2 bay leaves, crushed


2 t. rendered bacon fat
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 sections preserved lemon, minced
1 t. fresh thyme, minced
½ sea salt

Bring all the ingredients to a boil, remove from heat. Cool to room temperature before adding the birds. Brine the bird for 2-3 hours in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Wash the hens and dry with paper towel. Place the hen in it back side up on a cutting board. Using poultry shears, cut closely along one side of the backbone. Repeat on the other side; discard backbone. Turn breast side up. Open the bird so the drumsticks point out. Press the breastbone firmly to flatten. This method is called spatchcock or butterfly.

Mix together onion, preserved lemon, thyme and salt. Massage bacon fat all over the hens and stuff each with the onion-lemon-thyme mixture. Place the hens on a baking pan skin side up with plenty of space between them. Roast the hens in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes to an or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees F and the juices run clear. Remove the hens from the oven, loosely tent with foil and let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Red Onion Marmalade (recipe from

3 t butter
¼ cup sugar
1 ½ lbs. red onion, sliced thinly
1 cup dry red wine
¼ cup balsamic vinegar (3 year old is okay)
1/2 t. kosher salt

Halve onions lengthwise and cut into thin slices. Heat butter in large heavy skillet set over medium heat. When melted and hot, add onions and sugar and stir occasionally until onions are soft and start to caramelize. Add wine and vinegar and stir until mixture almost comes to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until liquids have evaporated and onion is shiny. Remove from heat and sprinkle in salt, adding more if needed.

The marmalade can be prepared 5 days ahead; cover and refrigerate. Reheat, stirring, just to warm before using. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Mashed Rutabaga

1 lb peeled rutabagas, cut in large chucks
Cold salted water
2 T butter
1 T milk
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Peel rutabagas, and cut them in large chunks. Put them in a pan of cold salted water, cover, and bring to a boil. Simmer until very tender, about 30 minutes. Transfer to the food processor and pulse until smooth with the butter, milk, salt and pepper.

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