Friday, August 26, 2016

Yogurt Marinated Cornish Game Hen Brochette with Cranberry Gastrique

     A Modern Café Style Cornish Game Hen!
     Other than at old fashioned yacht clubs and banquet events, Cornish Game Hen is rarely offered at modern restaurants.  Many fine dining restaurants used to place Cornish Game Hen on the menu as a token poultry offering or this item was only offered during the holiday season.  Usually the Game Hen was stuffed with Rice Pilaf and roasted in an oven, then served with a fancy Velouté Sauce.
     In recent years, Cornish Game Hen has become more popular in home kitchens than at restaurants, because of lifestyle changes.  Single adults or couples that lead a busy work schedule tend to cook single portion meals, with no food leftover.
     Cornish Game Hens really have nothing to do with bird hunting.  It is all about the size.  Cornish Game Hens are raised for 28 to 30 days, so they weigh a little less than 2 pounds after they are slaughtered.  Rock Cornish Game Hens are cross bred, so the breasts are slightly meatier, but they still weigh less than 2 pounds.  A Cornish Game Hen is the perfect size poultry portion for a single portion meal.      
     Many people only associate cranberries with the holiday season.  Cranberries are nice any time of year.  Trendy restaurants now feature dried cranberries in salad creations in place of old fashioned raisons.  During the last decade, cranberry products of all kinds have flooded the market, so it is just a matter of time before consumers get tired of this berry fruit.  Fresh cranberries are usually only marketed in early winter, but frozen cranberries are good for cooking too.  Cranberries are one of the few fruits that freeze well.
     Goat milk yogurt marinades are used extensively in Persian and Arabic cuisines.  The enzymes in yogurt help to tenderize and flavor the meat.  When using yogurt as a marinade, it is best to flavor the yogurt.  For today's recipe, the yogurt marinade is flavored with cranberry and lemon.
     A gastrique may sound fancy, but this is a fairly easy sauce to make.  Traditional gastriques are only flavored with digestif herbs.  A digestif is an item that aids or soothes the digestive process.  When made properly, a gastrique causes an interesting taste bud sensation.

     Bamboo Skewers:
     Select 2 bamboo skewers that are 8" long.
     Soak the bamboo skewers in water till later in the recipe.  

     Cornish Game Hen Fabrication:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Step 1:  Split a game hen open by cutting lengthwise through the back bone.
     Step 2:  Open the game hen with your fingers.
     Crack the breast bone with a short sharp strike of a chef knife.  (Do not cut all the way through the breast bone!  Just crack the bone.)
     Split the breast bone by bending the two halves of the game hen by hand.
     Step 3:  Use a boning knife to remove the breast bone, rib cage, wish bone and thigh bones.  Be careful not to damage the skin!
     *The only bones that should be left in the game hen are the 2 wings and 2 leg bones.
     Step 4:  Chill the deboned game hen till it is needed.

     Cranberry Yogurt Marinated Cornish Game Hen:
     This recipe yields enough marinade for 1 game hen.
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium high heat.
     Add 2 cups of water.
     Add 1/3 cup of chopped cranberries.
     Add 1 teaspoon of sugar.
     Bring the liquid to a boil.
     Step 2:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Gently simmer and reduce till the liquid is a very thin syrup consistency.  There should only be about 3 tablespoons of syrup after reducing.
     Step 3:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Pour the syrup through a fine mesh strainer into a container.
     Allow the syrup to cool to room temperature.
     Step 4:  Place 1/2 cup of goat milk yogurt in a mixing bowl.
     Add the prepared cranberry syrup.
     Add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced shallot.
     Add 2 pinches of ground sage.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and black pepper.
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Step 5:  Place the marinade in a container.
     Place the deboned game hen in the marinade.
     Coat the game hen with the marinade.
     Marinate the game hen for 2 to 3 hours in a refrigerator.

     Cranberry Gastrique:
     This recipe yields about 2/3 cup.   
     Gastrique has a long shelf life if it is refrigerated.  
     *This recipe involves working with hot molten sugar.  Hot sugar can cause very serious burns.  Wear protective clothing and gloves!
     Step 1:  Place a sauce pot over medium high heat.
     Add 1/4 cup of water.
     Add 1/2 cup of sugar.
     Boil till the liquid evaporates and the molten sugar starts to foam and bubble.
     Cook the sugar till it is a light amber brown color.  (335ºF to 345ºF)
     Step 2:  Immediately add 1 cup of chopped cranberries.
     *Do not stir!  The fruit will immediately stop the caramelized sugar from cooking any further and the sugar will pull the flavor and color out of the cranberries.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to medium heat.
     Wait till the hardened sugar starts to melt.
     Step 4:  Add 2 cups of water.
     Add 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar.
     Add 1/4 cup of dry white wine.
     Add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 2 bay leaves.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of thyme leaves.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of whole black peppercorns.
     Add 2 to 3 pinches of sea salt.
     Step 5:  Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat. 
     Gently simmer and reduce till the liquid is a thin syrup consistency that can glaze a spoon.
     Step 6:  Pour the gastrique through a fine mesh strainer into a container.
     Keep the gastrique warm on a stove top.
     Sticky Black Rice: 
     This recipe yields 2 portions.
     Black Rice will not stick to itself on its own.  It must be mixed with a starchy rice.  
     Step 1:  Place 2 1/4 cups of water in a sauce pot over high heat.
     Bring the water to a boil.
     Add 1/2 cup of Indonesian Black Rice.
     Add 1/2 cup of Sticky Rice.
     Bring the liquid back to a boil.
     Step 2:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Cover the pot with a lid.
     Let the rice cook and steam for about 20 minutes.
     Keep the rice warm on a stove top.

     Cranberries en Cranberry Gastrique: 
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium high heat.
     Add 1 1/2 cups of water.
     Add 1/2 cup of whole cranberries.  (Fresh or frozen.)
     Poach the cranberries till they just start to become tender.
     Step 2:  Drain the water off of the cranberries.
     Place the poached cranberries in a small bowl.
     Add 1/4 cup of the Cranberry Gastrique.
     Keep the Cranberries en Cranberry Gastrique on a stove top.
     Yogurt Marinated Cornish Game Hen Brochette Fabrication: 
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Step 1:  Remove the game hen from the marinade.  (Discard the marinade.)
     Brush off any excess marinade.
     Step 2:  Place the deboned game hen flat on a cutting board with the skin side facing up.
     Spread the game hen flat and position the legs and wings so the look nice.
     Step 3:  Drain the water off of the soaked bamboo skewers.
     Step 4:  Press and hold the game hen gently with one hand against the cutting board.
     Hold a bamboo skewer parallel to the cutting board.
     Run the bamboo skewer through the wings and breast meat, with the skewer parallel to the cutting board.
     Insert the second skewer through the legs and upper thigh meat.
     *The game hen should be skewered, so it remains flat and retains its shape when it is picked up by the skewers.

     Grilled Yogurt Marinated Cornish Game Hen Brochette: 
     This recipe yields 1 portion. 
     Step 1:  Heat a cast iron ribbed griddle or a chargrill to a medium temperature.
     Brush the grill with vegetable oil.
     Step 2:  Place the game hen brochette on the chargrill with the skin side down.
     Cook till some grill marks appear.
     Step 3:  Flip the game hen to grill the bare meat side.
     Grill each side twice and try to create cross-check grill marks.
     Step 4:  Place the game hen brochette on a wire screen roasting rack on a roasting pan.
     Roast the game hen brochette in a 300Fº oven till it is fully cooked.  (A probe thermometer should read 165ºF for 15 seconds.)

     Yogurt Marinated Cornish Game Hen Brochette with Cranberry Gastrique:
     This recipe describes 1 entrée presentation.
     Step 1:  Place 1 large portion of the Sticky Black Rice in a small bowl shaped mold that is lightly brushed with vegetable oil.
     Gently press the rice into the mold.
     Invert the mold onto the back half of a plate.
     Step 2:  Lean the chargrilled Yogurt Marinated Cornish Game Hen Brochette against the mound of rice, with the skin side facing up.
     Step 3:  Spoon a generous portion of the Cranberries en Cranberry Gastrique over the game hen brochette and onto the plate.
     Step 4:  Garnish the rice and brochette with an Italian Parsley sprig.
     Serve with a vegetable of your choice.
     *The vegetable in the photos is sautéed thin strips of zucchini.

     Voila!  A modern cranberry game hen entrée for the summer season!                            

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