Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Cornish game hens & the weather...more exciting than it should be

Sunday I had a ball game scheduled at 9pm. The entire day leading up to that was cloudy, gloomy and generally fraught with doom. I eagerly watched the weather reports roll in. Phrases like, heavy rain, thunderstorm, & lightening caught my attention. At about 7:30pm, we heard a little plink plink plink from our roof. I gave a girly shriek and ran to the window to see the heavenly game cancelling rain (who has a game at 9pm on a Sunday, honestly?!?), when what to my wondering eyes should appear but HAIL! FLIPPING HAIL! AND THE CAR WE AREN'T EVEN HALFWAY THROUGH PAYING OFF SITTING IN THE UNCOVERED DRIVEWAY WITH THE WINDOWS OPEN! AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!

I threw the keys at my husband and shoo-ed him out the door into the maelstrom while I picked up Milo and tried to explain that no, he couldn't follow daddy outside because he might get a concussion. Which resulted in this...

No honey, you can't go outside because flying ice will brain you.

*sigh* Oh well. He's still cute, even when screaming in my face. Anyhoo... five minutes later, the hail stopped and the rain started. Whoohoooo!!!!! I called my coach to get the confirmation that we weren't playing.

We were still playing. Say what now? Apparently there were still teams playing out there and the lightening was far enough off that they thought it was still safe. SON OF A CRACKER! So, in a horrid mood, I grabbed my clothes and my glove and waved goodbye to my husband. We played. We got our butts kicked. I injured my hand during play. Luckily we will be playing them again, so I'll be tripping the batter who hit that particular line drive the next time around. Moral of the story, kids? Don't trust the weather to get you out of crap.

I'm not sure how that ties into Citrus Stuffed Cornish Game Hens adapted from here and mashed potatoes adapted from here, but just imagine I make sense. All the time. That should save us both some confusion. Here you go...

Mmm...golden awesomeness.

Citrus & Herb Stuffed Cornish Game Hens with glaze & Mashed Potatoes

Serves 2

2 cornish game hens (about1 ½ lbs each), rinsed and dried off

Sea salt

Freshly cracked black pepper

1 teaspoons Italian seasoning

8 sprigs fresh thyme (about half a package)

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

1 lemons, sliced into thin slices

1 small oranges, sliced into thin slices


1/4 cup of your favorite citrus preserves (orange, apricot, etc.)

1 TBSP fresh squeezed orange juice

Mashed Potatoes

1 head of garlic, roasted (instructions below)

2 russet potatoes

4 medium red potatoes

3-4 yukon gold potatoes

2 TBSP butter

1/4 cup of half & half

2 TBSP milk (whatever you have, skim, 1%, etc.)

1 cup of spinach, washed & roughly chopped

Salt & Pepper to taste

1) Start by roasting your garlic. To roast the garlic head, preheat oven to 400 degrees, and cut a small square of foil to wrap the head of garlic in; cut the tops off of the head of garlic, drizzle it lightly with olive oil, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, and wrap it tightly in the square of foil;

Milo doesn't understand "hot" yet.

Roast the head directly on the oven rack for 40 minutes, and remove.

The smell was awesome.

I like this one because you can see the salt on the side... yum.

Once slightly cooled, squeeze the roasted garlic cloves out of their papers, and set aside.

Squishy, but heavenly.

2) While your garlic is getting its roast on, start on your glaze. Combine your preserves & juice in a small pot and put it over medium, stirring to get it all mixed.

I used apricot preserves because it's what I had. Don't dig in with a spoon. You need this.

Once it starts to simmer, put it on low and let it simmer for 10 minutes or so until it has thickened a bit & reduced. Now, if you can be bothered, go ahead and strain all the chunky bits out and keep the juice on the counter until you're ready for it. If you can't be bothered, just try not to get any chunky bits on the hens when you brush on the glaze.

3) Let's get started on the hens! First, here are the hens I purchased...

They are wet because I was defrosting them in the sink.

Go ahead and take them out of the package. I recommend doing this in the sink. Less chance of spreading germs and there will be a hen juice SPLOSION if you just try and stab it with a knife. Use scissors, then wash them. I speak from experience. Give them a good rinse inside and out and dry them off as best you can with a dish towel which you will IMMEDIATELY go put in the laundry basket so you don't use it again. Move that hen around in the sink a little to make sure there aren't any surprise water pockets waiting for you. Now, lay them nicely on a place where you can prep them. I recommend a cookie sheet with a lip to catch any juice. I however, was an idiot and put them on my cutting board...

See that juice I missed? That did come back to bite me in case you were wondering.

Go ahead and preheat your oven to 375 degrees at this point. Also, throw your Italian seasoning, salt and pepper into a little bowl or cup. Trust me, you don't want to be handling your spices with icky hen hands.

Good stuff happening...

Now, liberally season your hens inside and out. Pull up the skin on the breasts a little and rub that spice on there. Don't be afraid! Now, take your fresh herbs and stuff an equal amount of each into the hens followed by your sliced fruit. You can even shove some under the breast skin if you like.

Full birdies!

At this point, you can either pop them in a container and put them in the fridge for 24 hours to kind of let them "marinade" in their herbs and citrus, OR you can slap some foil on a cookie sheet, spray it with non stick spray and throw some glaze all over them like so...


Now, pop those babies into your oven breast side up for 20 minutes. Go play a quick round of scrabble or something. After 20 minutes, take them out of the oven and spread more glaze on them and put them right back. Do this two more times. Don't forget to set your timer for 20 minutes! So, they should be in the oven for a little over an hour probably... an hour and twenty minutes tops. No one likes a dry bird. Always check the internal temp to make sure it's completely done. The juices should also run clear. If the skin starts to get a little too brown (all ovens are different) take some foil and cover up the tops of the birds and keep cooking.

This was after the 3rd time glazing. Mmmm...

4) In between your glazing, get started on your potatoes.This is what I had to work with...

I'm Irish. I love me some potatoes.
I did not take pictures of me peeling them. But peel them. If you decide to leave the skins on, wash them like there is no tomorrow first. Anyway, peel, rinse, and cut them into 1 inch cubes and put them in a pot. Fill the pot with cold water just until it covers the potatoes, like so...

Oh yeah, starchy water.
Crank your heat up to high until they start bubbling, then lower the temp a little so they don't bubble over. Check them with a fork occasionally, but you're going to mash them so you want those suckers SOFT. I just let mine go and forgot about them for half an hour. Now, the original recipe calls for kale in the tades. I am not a kale person, plus Checkers had fresh spinach on sale for .98 for this big bag!

I practically threw this in the cart.
So, naturally, we're having spinach instead. While your potatoes bubble away, grab a cup of spinach and rinse it off really well in a colander. Then get your hands in there and SQUEEZE all the water out you can! Then, give it a quick rough chop and let it rest on a paper towel or dish towel until you're ready.

Green is good, people.

Once your potatoes are fork tender, drain those suckers and put them back in the pot to let them sweat out any extra moisture. Throw your spinach on top and stir it in. The extra heat will wilt it with almost no effort on your part.

Bad lighting at it's finest.

Meanwhile, prep your butter, milk & half and half. Once your spinach is wilted, dump it in the potatoes and mash like you've never mashed before!

Oh yeah, baby.
Oh! Garlic! I forgot about the garlic! I swear, if my head weren't attached... anyway. Garlic. Grab your soft roasted garlic and a fork. Now, mash the crap out of it until it's a nice garlic paste. Throw it into your potatoes and stir/mash it around until it's all incorporated. I highly recommend adding salt & pepper at this point as well. Potatoes NEED salt, so don't be afraid.

You're all done! Plate it all up! DEVOUR!

Yes, it was as good as it looks.

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