Swoon-worthy Cornish Hen
by EnRoute on November 26, 2019
From the lemon-tarragon brine to the white beans with bacon lardons and butternut squash, we are swooning over this Cornish hen recipe from our winery kitchens. Pull the cork on our Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, EnRoute “Les Pommiers,” early, as you’ll both cook with it and pair it with this fragrant autumn feast. The bright berry-cherry flavors and spice accents are an ideal match for the hen’s tender meat and herb-y notes, while vibrant acidity cuts through the fat in the crisp skin. It’s truly swoon-worthy. Cook it once and you’ll see what we mean.
Cornish Game Hen with White Beans, Bacon Lardon and Butternut Squash
- 1 lemon, halved
- 6 sprigs of tarragon
- 6 sprigs thyme
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 teaspoon peppercorns
- 1 gallon water
Roasted Hens Ingredients:
- 2 Cornish Game Hens (have your butcher butterfly them, removing only the backbone* )
- 4 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 pound bacon lardons (large-chunk cut)
- 1 butternut squash , peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
- 4 cups cooked white beans
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 4 cloves of garlic
- ¼ cup of pinot
- Salt and pepper to taste
To Brine: Mix brine ingredients together in a large pot and bring to boil. Cook and stir until salt is fully dissolved. Remove from heat and allow water to cool to room temperature before adding the hens. Submerge the hens in brine and refrigerate for at least 7 hours and up to 24. Remove the hens from the brine and rinse well. Pat dry, and place them on a racked baking dish breast-side up and refrigereate for at least 45 minutes.
To Cook: While the hens rest in the refrigerator, wrap two bricks with foil. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and two burners to medium heat. Add one hen each to two large nonstick pans or cast-iron skillets. Place them skin-side down, then press a foiled-wrapped brick on top of each hen and sear until golden brown, approximately six to eight minutes. If the skin browns too quickly, turn down the heat. Add the bacon lardons, brown for about four minutes, monitoring the heat so as not to burn the hens. Add butternut squash, garlic cloves, ¼-cup of EnRoute Pinot Noir, chicken stock, and cooked white beans and finish in the oven at 350 F for 10 minutes. The internal temperature of the hens should be 165 degrees.
To Serve: Serve hens family style in a large oval or rectangle serving platter, alongside one to two open bottles of EnRoute’s flagship Russian River Pinot Noir, Les Pommiers Enjoy how the bright juicy flavors complement the crisp, herb-scented skin and savory-earthy flavors of the tender hens. Vow to keep this deceptively simple menu on hand for casual dinner parties and weekend suppers all fall and winter. Cheers!
*To butterfly the hens yourself: Place the hens breast-side down on a cutting surface. Use kitchen shears to cut along either side of the backbone to remove. Turn the hens breast-side up and open so the drumsticks point outward.