Cornish Hen for Two with Cranberry-Thyme Sauce

A meal for lovebirds


Sometimes, preparing a little holiday feast for two is just the ticket – maybe your whole family is stranded in Chicago due to a freaky snowstorm (don’t laugh – the forecast looks iffy), or you and your lucky love bunny are simply planning a cozy Thanksgiving this year.

This recipe is fairly easy and delicious…enjoy.

Cornish Hen for Two with Cranberry -Thyme Sauce
adapted from Bon Appetit, December 2007

3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 tablespoon golden brown sugar
3 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, divided
1 1 1/2- to 1 3/4-pound Cornish game hen, halved, backbone removed, rinsed, patted dry
1/2 tablespoon all purpose flour
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup orange juice
1/3 cup frozen cranberry juice cocktail concentrate, thawed
1/4 cup dried sweetened cranberries

Preheat oven to 450┬░F. Blend 2 tablespoons butter, sugar, and 2 teaspoons thyme in small bowl. Pat hen halves dry with a paper towel and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.

Spread skin of each with half of butter mixture. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add hen halves, skin side down. Sear until deep brown, about 4 minutes. Turn, skin side up, and sear 1 minute. Remove from heat. Transfer hen halves, skin side up, to a small rimmed baking sheet. Reserve skillet (pan juices will be dark).

Roast hen halves until cooked through and juices run clear when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, blend remaining 1 tablespoon butter and 1/2 tablespoon flour in a small bowl. Add broth, orange juice, cranberry concentrate, and remaining 1 teaspoon thyme to reserved skillet.
Boil until sauce is reduced to 3/4 cup, whisking often, about 7 minutes. Whisk in flour mixture and cranberries. Simmer until sauce coats a spoon, stirring often, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer hen halves to plates. Spoon the sauce over and serve.

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Copyright (c) 2007 FamilyStyle Food

3 Simple Sides for Thanksgiving

Cider-Roasted Fennel & Baby Carrots, Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes,
Green Beans with Lemon-Shallot Butter


Thanksgiving is a small family gathering at our house, which is kind of nice. We don’t have much in the way of extended family in town, so I don’t feel the pressure to make Uncle Jack’s favorite stuffing made with bags of salty, stale supermarket stuffing mix or Grandma’s sweet potato casserole loaded with sticky, sweet marshmallows.

I know, this holiday is all about tradition. But those old family recipes sometimes need a little dusting – not to make them extra-fancy, more like paring them down to their basic, pure selves.

There really isn’t much to preparing simple vegetable sides worthy of a place next to the turkey. I like to save the drama for the turkey, anyway. And that will be another story, for another day.

Cider-Roasted Fennel & Baby Carrots
serves 4

1 pound baby carrots, peeled
1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs, stems trimmed, sliced into 1/4-inch wedges
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or use about 1/2 this amount of fine sea salt)
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup apple cider

Toss the vegetables on a large, rimmed baking sheet with the olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Pour the apple cider over and place in a 400-degree oven. Roast 25 minutes, stirring halfway through, or until the vegetables are caramelized and the cider is reduced to a syrupy glaze.

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
serves 4

10 plump garlic cloves, peeled
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced
3 cups warm milk (reduced fat is fine)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Salt to taste

Place the garlic cloves on a large sheet of aluminum foil; drizzle with the oil and wrap into a package. Roast in a 400-degree oven about 20 minutes, until the garlic is very soft.

Put the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Add 1 tablespoon salt and bring to a boil. Cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain well; return to the saucepan and set over low heat. Mash in the butter and garlic with a potato masher or wooden spoon, mixing until the potatoes are smooth. Stir in 2 cups milk and season with more salt, if needed. Stir in more milk as needed to make a smooth puree.

Green Beans with Lemon-Shallot Butter
serves 4

3/4 pound green beans, trimmed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon grated fresh lemon zest
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the beans in a 10-inch skillet or saute pan. Add about 1/4 cup water and set over medium-high heat until the water starts to boil. Cover the pan and cook 5 minutes, or until beans are crisp-tender. Pour off any remaining water and return the pan over the heat; add the butter and shallot to the beans and cook until the beans are evenly coated with butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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Roasted Pork, Tuscan Style

Stick your fork in a juicy slice

You know how people say we talk about the weather when we can’t think of anything else to say? Well, today I want to talk about the weather because that’s all I’ve been thinking about.

I took myself on a walk this morning after dropping the kids at school – it’s such a glorious postcard-perfect day someone needs to take a picture of it (because, obviously, I didn’t).

The sky is pristinely blue, a chilly breeze is blowing leaves around, and the trees are still holding on to their brilliant array of fall foliage. It sounds so sappy, but the sight of it really took my breath away.

And then, I started thinking about what I wanted to eat.

So much of what I find myself craving depends on the weather; like a cool cucumber and ripe tomato salad on a humid summer day or fresh green things in early spring.

Now that it’s so close to Thanksgiving, I love grocery shopping more than ever. It really is the only time of year when I can walk into my favorite store and find an array of food I won’t see again until next year, unless I place a special order for it. The meat department especially draws me in – I’m tempted by fresh duck, goose and quail and big, beautiful pork roasts.

A roasted rack of pork is one of my favorite things to cook and eat. I rub it with olive oil, honey and some of my Tuscan Spiced Salt, and slide it into a hot oven. It turns out so much better than a boneless pork loin ever could – because the rib bones are intact, the meat stays juicy. Plus, it just tastes good.

Roasted Rack of Pork, Tuscan Style

for 4 servings

1 2-pound pork rib roast, trimmed
Honey
Olive Oil
Tuscan Spiced Salt, about 2 tablespoons

*note: I noticed I had “3″ tablespoons here – better to use about 1 tablespoon per pound*

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Rub the pork with a little honey and olive oil and the Tuscan salt.
Arrange in a shallow roasting pan and roast about 30 minutes, or until an instant thermometer reads 140 degrees. Remove from the oven and let stand 15 minutes before carving.

 

Copyright (c) 2007 FamilyStyle Food