Eilene is having her friends over again and she has requested lembas bread and Lord of the Rings stew. I did not want to make the same one that I made last time, but none of the ones on-line struck my fancy.
I have had a Cornish game hen in my freezer for far too long. That got me to thinking that these are the Hobbits of poultry, Shire hens. And if you have seen the movies (or read the books) you know that Hobbits love apples, onions, carrots and just food in general. They would most likely put them all into a poultry stew. Rosemary and sage also seem like good additions.
I thought that apple wine would pair well with the chicken. In the usual case, I would use apples and a white wine. However, I will be serving teenagers, so I decided that my “wine” would be Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider.
Karl’s Shire Hens in Apple Wine
2 Cornish game hens
3 Tbs. clarified butter (ghee or olive oil)
2 large onions, one diced and the other coarsely chopped
½ tsp. Kosher salt
5 small turnips, halved
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
1½ lb. baby potatoes, halved
1-2 cups Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbs. rosemary, lightly crushed
1 tsp. rubbed sage
½ tsp. cracked black pepper
2 tart apples, coarsely chopped
1. Cut the game hens into four quarters each.
Note: Use kitchen shears to remove the backbone, by snipping along the spine. Open up the bird and remove the breast bone. Cut the bird in half between the breasts. Use the shears to separate the leg quarter from the breast. Trim the ribs from the breast quarter. Save the bits for soup.
2. Prep all of the vegetables.
3. Pre heat the oven to 350° F.
4. Melt the clarified butter in a large Dutch oven and lightly brown the skin side of the breast quarters. Brown both sides of the leg quarters. Remove the finished pieces to a plate.
Tip: If there is a lot of grease left by browning the hens, you may want to remove any you consider excess.
Note: The chicken will be mostly raw at this point. You are not trying to cook it, just to get some surface color and caramelization.
5. Without cleaning the pot, add the diced onions and salt. Sauté the onions until they are just starting to pick up some color, about 4 minutes.
Tip: Use the moisture released by the onions to help you scrape any bits of skin or fond stuck to the bottom of the pot. If left in place it might scorch later.
6. Add the turnips, carrots, and celery to the pot and sauté for three more minutes.
7. Scatter the baby potatoes evenly over the vegetables and add some of the apple cider.
Tip: How much cider you add is a personal choice, for a thicker stew add one cup. For a more soup like dish add two cups.
8. Arrange the hen pieces in a single layer over the vegetables and sprinkle the herbs and pepper over the chicken.
9. Scatter the apple, coarsely chopped onion and garlic evenly over the hen pieces.
10. Add the rest of the cider and bring the pot to a boil.
11. Cover the pot with foil, put the cover on and transfer the pot to the oven.
Tip: The foil keeps more of the moisture inside the pot. If you like a dryer dish, leave it off and the liquid will escape as steam.
12. Bake for 30 minutes.
Tip: Insert an instant read thermometer into a breast to check for doneness, 165° F.
13. Let the pot cool, covered, for 10 minutes and serve.