Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Pan-Roasted Game Hens with Fig-and-Apricot Glaze

Roasted game hens (or Cornish hens) are a wintertime staple in my house—in summer, they’re great on the grill. Wherever you cook them, these little chickens (they’re not actually “game” birds—see more about that at Pan-Roasted Games Hens with Lemon and Leeks) are tender, juicy, and flavorful, especially after spending some time chilling in the fridge with a garlicky, lemony marinade.

Sauces or glazes are great with any kind of chicken. Here, I went with apricot preserves (another staple) and fig jam to create an exceptionally sticky-sweet, fruity glaze. Mellow it out with a bit of butter and add a little tang with white balsamic vinegar for a nice balance of flavors.

Serves 4

  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 2 tsp finely chopped lemon zest
  • 1-1/2 tsp dried oregano, divided
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 game hens, giblets removed
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup apricot preserves
  • 2 tbsp fig jam
  • 1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp water
Glaze Ingredients
  1. Combine the garlic, 2 tablespoons olive oil, lemon zest, and 1 teaspoon dried oregano in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Place a wire rack in a large, rimmed baking sheet.
  3. Rinse the hens thoroughly and pat dry. Lay them on a work surface and use kitchen shears to remove the tail and any excess skin and fat. Cut along each side of the backbones and remove them. Cut through the center of the breastbones to divide each hen in half.
  4. Transfer the hens to the rack. Loosen the skin and rub the garlic mixture over the meat beneath it. Use any leftover to rub on the outside of the skin. Refrigerate 2-4 hours. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before continuing.
Marinade Slurry
Rinse and pat dry
Cut along the backbone of the trimmed hen
Remove backbone 
Cut through the breast to halve
Ready to Marinate
  1. Preheat the oven to 375° F.
  2. Heat a large (at least 15-inch) ovenproof skillet, preferably cast-iron, over medium-high heat and brush with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil.
  3. Season the hens with salt and pepper and place skin-side down in the skillet. Cook, without turning, until the skin just begins to brown, 5 minutes. Transfer to the oven and roast 20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, heat a small, nonstick saucepan or skillet over medium-low heat and add the butter. When the butter has melted, add the apricot preserves, fig jam, vinegar, water, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano and bring to a simmer. Cook until thickened, 6-7 minutes. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Remove the hens from the oven and turn skin-side up. Brush with half the glaze and return to the oven. Roast until the hens’ skin is golden brown and the meat is cooked through, 20-25 minutes longer. 
Hens Beginning to Sear
Ready for the Oven
Glaze Beginning to Cook
Fig-and-Apricot Glaze
After Turning
Glazed Chicken
Remove from the oven and brush with the remaining glaze. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Pan-Roasted Game Hens with Fig-and-Apricot Glaze

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