Sep 262012


Cornish Hens Mediterranean
Cuisine: Entree
Serves: 4
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
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. When the oil starts to become hot, add the hen pieces, skin side down.
  4. Cook over medium-high heat until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Turn and cook 5 minutes more.
  5. Remove and set aside.
  6. 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.
  7. Add the onions and leeks and cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes.
  8. 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.
  9. Stir and scrape the bottom of the skillet to dissolve any brown particles on it.
  10. Return hen pieces and Cover tightly and simmer on low for 15 minutes.
  11. While the dish is simmering, pour the reserved ½ cup of chardonnay into a wine glass and sip slowly…
  12. Remove the thyme and rosemary sprigs, if used, and the bay leaf.
  13. Remove lid and simmer for 5 more minutes to reduce the sauce and finish the cooking process.
  14. At this point the flavors of the dish have married and you want to taste the broth and adjust your seasonings; specifically, the salt.
  15. Sprinkle with chopped basil and serve.

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