Herb Roasted Cornish Game Hens with Creamy Mustard Sauce
Serving eight? Just double the recipe. The stock could be made a day or more ahead and reheated to make the sauce.
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh sage, plus extra to garnish
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh thyme leaves, plus 1 large sprig for the stock, and extra to garnish
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 (1 1/4-pound) Cornish game hens
1 pound chicken wings, separated at joints
1 cup coarsely chopped yellow onion
1/2 cup coarsely chopped carrot
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup evaporated skim milk
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Freshly ground pepper
Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
In a small bowl, combine the sage, thyme leaves, lemon zest and salt.
Carefully separate the skin from the meat on the breast and thighs of each hen, lifting it lightly without removing it. Rub a quarter of the herb blend directly onto the breast and thigh meat (under the skin) of each hen. Cover and chill the hens. (Can be done up to 8 hours ahead.)
In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, arrange the chicken wings in a single layer. Roast on the oven’s middle rack for 15 minutes, then turn them and roast another 15 minutes, until golden. Add onion, carrot, garlic, tomato paste and the thyme sprig, and roast 15 minutes more, until vegetables are slightly caramelized. Turn off the oven.
Set the pan of wings and vegetables over medium heat on the stovetop. Add the wine and bring to a simmer, scraping the bottom to release the browned bits. Simmer until the wine is reduced by half. Add the chicken broth and enough cold water to cover the wings by 1 inch. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 2 hours, adding water as necessary to keep the wings covered.
Heat oven to 475 degrees.
Remove the hens from the refrigerator and use paper towels to pat them dry. Coat them lightly with olive oil spray and use cooking twine to tie the legs together. Arrange on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Roast in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted at the leg thigh joint registers 165 degrees.
Transfer the hens to a platter, and let them rest, loosely covered with foil, for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, when the chicken stock has simmered for 2 hours, strain into a large bowl, discarding solids. Skim off and discard any fat on top. Wipe clean the pot and pour the stock back into it. Return it to the stovetop over high heat and boil until reduced to 1 cup, about 10 minutes.
In a small cup, whisk the cornstarch with the evaporated skim milk. While whisking constantly, add mixture to the simmering stock. Continue whisking until thickened, then whisk in the mustard. Season with salt and pepper. Add the juices from the resting hens to the sauce.
Transfer the hens to plates and pour some of the sauce over each one. Garnish with fresh thyme and sage. Makes 4 servings.
Per serving: 510 calories, 160 calories from fat (31 percent of total calories), 17 g fat (4.5 g saturated, 0 trans fats), 265 mg cholesterol, 14 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 63 g protein, 1,220 mg sodium.