Cornish Hens

I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate. --Julia Child

I usually do some version of pork and sauerkraut for New Year's Day dinner, but this year, I found two forgotten but lovely Cornish hens idling away in the freezer and decided to mix it up a little.  After all, tradition can get a bit boring...

Once thawed, I cleaned the birds and patted dry.  Then, I stuffed with a mixture of unsalted butter, diced apples, bacon, dried cranberries, chopped Turkish figs, fresh rosemary, a minced shallot and cubes of multi-grain bread.  I had soaked it all in a mixture of Calvados, maple syrup and apple butter.  I trussed up the hens, brushed with some butter and then used my convection oven's rotisserie and broiled them for about 80 minutes.  I had leftover stuffing, so I put in two small buttered oven-safe bowls and baked it along with the birds. 

While I was waiting, I peeled and cubed some potatoes and boiled until tender, then ran them through my potato ricer.  I added some butter, salt and warm milk to the velvety soft spuds and kept warm on the stove.

I knew Chris would want some gravy, so I made a roux with butter and Wondra and whisked in some Calvados, herbes de provence, and chicken stock, heated to boiling and then reduced the heat while it thickened.

While the hens were resting, I made a simple salad of herbs and red/green lettuce and a nice dressing of walnut oil, champagne vinegar, honey mustard and a dash of maple syrup.

Chris said that the shallots gave a really nice flavor to the birds, although he did find my salad to be "a bit overdressed"--but then 30 seconds later, he dipped some homemade bread in his salad bowl to soak up the excess, so not sure it was really a problem. (True Gourmess that I am, I had dropped the bowl on the way to the fridge, leaving 1/2 the salad in the trash, so he was probably right.)

It was a lovely, elegant, and comforting way to welcome 2011. 

Looking forward to many more food adventures with you...