Monday, October 15, 2007

Cornish Hen in Mushroom and Lemon Sauce

This past weekend I've been busy studying for a mid-term exam but didn't want to deprive myself from eating good food. In hectic times like these, I like to prepare easy and simple foods that won't take too much time, yet that look like I spent hours in the kitchen cooking it. I like to categorize this dish as a "hybrid" because it's a phenomenal combination of vietnamese and french cuisine. It's rich in flavour and aroma, yet the texture of the whole dish remains light. Chicken or Cornish Hen (tiny little chicken, but bigger than quail) is the primary ingredient. I prefer using Cornish Hen because of its refined and extremely tender meat. The most appealing part of this dish is how the fragrance of the coriander and the aroma of the butter blend so well together. What a great marriage.

Recipe "au pif":
2 small cornish hens (or chicken drumsticks and wings)
1 can sliced or whole mushrooms
1 medium sized onion quartered
3 garlic cloves, mashed
1 tbsp fish sauce (nuoc mam) for a lifted flavour or you can use salt instead
2 tsp butter
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 chicken stock
1/2 cup white wine
2 quarters of one lemon
Some coriander
Some black ground pepper

Spatchcock the cornish hens.
Prepare marinade in a bowl by mixing the fish sauce and half the garlic in a bowl. Marinate the hens in the bowl and let sit at room temperature for about half an hour.

Brown hens in a hot skillet or a sauce pan until all sides are golden brown, and put aside.

On high-medium heat, oil and melt butter in a large enough sauce pan that can fit 2 small cornish hens, and that can also go in the oven (otherwise transfer hens into a large baking dish). Add in the onions, stir until soft, and add in garlic and stir for a 1 minute (but they should not brown). Add the flour and stir. Immediately add in the wine and keep stirring.
Add in hens, so that they fit in the pen. Add in the mushrooms and the chicken broth. Squeeze in lemon juice over the hens from the lemon quarters. Cover and simmer on medium-low heat for about 40 minutes, or until the hens are cooked throughout.
Put in oven at 350F to brown the skin even more for about 30 minutes, if desired.
Sprinkle some chopped coriander and pepper over the chicken and serve hot.

Makes 4 servings.
It can be served with potatoes, but it's fantastic with steamed white jasmine or basmati rice.

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