Cornish Hens Mediterranean
Jim Tuttle – Mount Dora Historic Inn
This dish is a fusion of flavors from Northern Italy and Greece. Very simple and very yummy! Note: I typically pair this dish with sticky rice; however, Yukon Gold baby potatoes work nicely too.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 Cornish hens, 1-1/2 pounds each, cut into 8 pieces (4 breasts with the wing and 4 legs)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 5 cloves of finely chopped garlic
- 1 cup chopped onions
- 2 leeks, sliced thin (about 1-1/2 cups)—soak leaks in water for about 10 minutes to properly clean, rinse and dry before cooking
- 2 cups diced plum tomatoes–peeled
- 16 green olives stuffed with pimientos
- 12 Kalamata olives–pitted
- 5 sprigs fresh thyme
- 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 1 cup dry white wine, California Chardonnay works great—reserve ½ cup of wine and keep cold
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- Piquillo paste or 4 dashes of Tabasco
- 4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet large enough to hold the pieces of Cornish hens in one layer. Do not put hens in yet.
- Sprinkle the pieces with salt and pepper to taste. Remember the olives are going to bring their own salt to the dish; so, go easy on the salt.
- When the oil starts to become hot, add the hen pieces, skin side down.
- Cook over medium-high heat until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Turn and cook 5 minutes more.
- Remove and set aside.
- To the same pan, reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic with a pinch of salt, and sauté, until just starting to brown, about 2 minutes.
- Add the onions and leeks and cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, green olives, thyme, wine (not the reserved though), chicken broth, bay leaf, saffron, Piquillo paste, another pinch of salt; and, pepper to taste.
- Stir and scrape the bottom of the skillet to dissolve any brown particles on it.
- Return hen pieces and Cover tightly and simmer on low for 15 minutes.
- While the dish is simmering, pour the reserved ½ cup of chardonnay into a wine glass and sip slowly…
- Remove the thyme and rosemary sprigs, if used, and the bay leaf.
- Remove lid and simmer for 5 more minutes to reduce the sauce and finish the cooking process.
- At this point the flavors of the dish have married and you want to taste the broth and adjust your seasonings; specifically, the salt.
- Sprinkle with chopped basil and serve.