Tuesday, November 30, 2004
roasted citrus herby game hens
i cooked on thanksgiving. yay. actually, boo, i was hoping to have it all catered but we waited too long. anyroad, there were only three of us, so i decided to mess about with little hens instead of a giant turkey. i'm not a particular fan of game hens (i wanted to cook duck, but it was a last minute decision, and cooking duck rarely goes well with last minute decisions), and i wasn't sure how to season them, but the birds turned out well enough that my aunt gnawed on one in traffic on the way home. whey hey.
i made a brine from kosher salt, brown sugar, fresh lemon rind, dried orange rind, tri-colour whole peppercorns (black, green, pink), rosemary, thyme, pineapple sage, and bay leaves (i cribbed the basic ingredients from a mix from williams-sonoma. it sounded good.). boiled it in water and orange juice, and set it aside to cool.
after the brining liquid had cooled, i submerged the cleaned hens into the brine, and set them in the fridge overnight. after i had thoroughly rinsed out the birds, and discarded the brine, i stuffed the cavities with more fresh herbs and orange wedges, and made a basting sauce from olive oil, butter, orange and lemon juice, and used a long sprig of rosemary as a baster.
the hens were placed in a roasting pan over a rack, in an oven preheated to 450˚F, basted occasionally and cooked until a thermometer stuck into the thigh read 175˚F (79˚C), about an hour later. i left them to rest for about 15 minutes before serving. they turned out to be quite tender and meltingly soft, and the citrus flavours worked well with the herbs. not my cup of tea, though, but i'm glad to know i can do it!