Pomegranate Glazed Cornish Hens with Wild Rice Stuffing

I'm sitting here eating the leftovers of this as I type up this post, and it's sure yummy! It was such a pretty looking dish and it was fun to each get our own bird. It wasn't hard to make either, as long as your not bothered by handling raw poultry. The rice stuffing is so flavorful and moist and delicious. In this dish, there were a couple of ingredients I had never cooked with before. In the rice I used a Shallot and fresh pomegranate seeds (called arils). The hens are glazed with a mixture containing pomegranate molasses, which I had never had before and which I had to make myself because I couldn't find it anywhere.

What you Need:

  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 Cornish hens (about 1 1/4 pounds each), rinsed and dried
  • 15 jarred grape leaves (optional)(I didn't use these, I don't think they have them at my local grocery store)
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups wild rice blend
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 cup pomegranate seeds, plus more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, plus sprigs for serving
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, plus sprigs for serving
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses

What you do:

Mix the cinnamon, 4 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl; sprinkle all over the hens and inside the cavities. Place the hens on a rack set on a rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate, uncovered, at least 2 hours or overnight. Meanwhile, soak the grape leaves in water 1 hour.
Bring the chicken broth and 2 cups water to a boil in a saucepan; add the rice blend and cook as the label directs. Drain and rinse under cold water.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallot, garlic, ginger and cumin and cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat; add the cooked rice, pomegranate seeds, and chopped parsley and cilantro; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Add the egg yolks and stir to combine.

Make the glaze: Bring the orange juice and pomegranate molasses to a boil in a small skillet over medium heat. Cook until reduced by half, about 5 minutes.A good way to measure how much something has reduced is to stick the handle end of a wooden spoon in the liquid and then mark how high up the handle it came with a rubberband or piece of string. Then, you can use the same spoon and keep checking until the liquid only comes half way up to the mark you made. Remove from the heat and swirl in the remaining 2 tablespoons butter.

Fill the cavity of each hen with about 1/2 cup of the rice mixture (reserve the rest); tie the legs together with twine. Roast 20 minutes, then brush with the pomegranate glaze. Continue roasting, glazing every 10 minutes, until a thermometer inserted into the thigh registers 165 degrees F to 170 degrees F, 1 hour to 1 hour, 10 minutes. (Rotate the hens halfway through cooking; if the skin gets too dark, cover loosely with foil.)
If you don't tie the legs together it won't affect the cooking, but it does leave the bird free to sprawl out all over the pan and then it doesn't look as pretty when you serve it. I just used some yarn I had left over from some project, and I also tied the wings as well so they'd stay put and looking nice. When tying the legs it helps to cross one over the other like I did in the second picture, and then tie the yarn around the feet and the pope's nose (that's what the tail is called, I'm not kidding).

Meanwhile, drain the grape leaves and pat dry. Use some of the leaves to line a 9-inch pie dish. Fill with the reserved rice mixture and drizzle with 2 tablespoons water. Cover with the remaining grape leaves, shiny side up, then cover with foil. (If you aren't using grape leaves, spoon the rice into a pie dish, sprinkle with water and cover with foil.) After the hens have roasted about 20 minutes, transfer the rice to the oven and cook until heated through, about 45 minutes.

Transfer the hens to a platter and add some parsley and cilantro sprigs and pomegranate seeds. Peel the grape leaves off the top of the rice and serve alongside the hens.
I got this recipe from Food Network Magazine.

No comments