Roasted Maple-Balsamic Cornish Hens with Acorn Squash Puree & Vegetables
You ever walk by those cornish game hens at the store and wonder about what you could do with them? They are reasonably priced, typically a two-pack and they can feed two to four people quite easily! I find these are wonderful for that evening where it is wicked cold and you want a meal that can warm you from the inside. This is a very easy dish to make and it allows some flexibility as well.
Celeste Oliva is a wonderful small business in Concord, NH that features a variety of balsamics, oils, salts and gift packs for just about any occasion. This is in no way a paid sponsorship, but rather Im simply "pimping" them, LOL! I am just a local supporting local. If you get a chance, go check them out! I am using a maple balsamic for this recipe. And, it will definitely be delicious!
INGREDIENTS: 2 Cornish Game Hens - whole or spatchcocked
1 Acorn Squash - halved, flesh & seeds removed
8oz Fingerling potatoes - rinsed, quartered 1 Zucchini, average size - rinsed, small chunks 1 Summer Squash, average size - rinsed, small chunks 1 Carrot, average size - rinsed (peel or dont peel, up to you), small chunks Thyme - fresh or dried - to preference Rosemary - fresh or dried - to preference Kosher Salt - to preference
Black Pepper - to preference
Smoked Paprika - to preference Olive oil
1 Pint Chicken Stock - to preference
FOR THE MARINADE:
4oz Maple Balsamic Vinegar
4oz Olive Oil 3/4 tsp Kosher Salt 1/2 tsp Coriander/Cumin (1/4 tsp each) 1/2 tsp Ginger powder
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
1/2 tsp Mustard powder OVEN TO 375°F/190°C Slice either the top or bottom off of the squash to create a flat surface. Half the acorn squash and remove the flesh and seeds. Add a light coating of olive oil and dust off with kosher salt and black pepper. Send this to the oven with a timer for approximately 30 minutes.
While the acorn squash bakes, you can tackle the vegetable prep and work the cornish hens. Be careful not to over-season the vegetables. Lightly drizzle olive oil into the mixture and toss to coat. Set this aside.
Spatchcock your cornish hens by simply taking kitchen shears. Make parallel cuts along the spine. Toss the spines onto the pan with the acorn squash to cook. Or - you can simply leave the cornish hens whole.
In a medium mixing bowl, add all of your marinade ingredients. Mix well so the dried spices dissolve. Taste test the marinade to make adjustments to your own preference. Once you are all set with the marinade, add your cornish hens and coat them well with the marinade. Take a spoon and get the marinade under the skin. Massage the marinade around so it touches as many areas as possible in, on and under the skin. Cover your bowl with saran wrap for up to an hour on the counter. (Or, refrigerate this overnight in the fridge if you are prepping ahead of time for the next day)
By now - that acorn squash should be out of the oven. Pan up your marinated cornish hens by laying them flat. Toss this into your oven. Grab your prepped roasting vegetables and get that into your oven as well. Set the timer for 30 minutes to start. (Thermometer is helpful) The hens should cook to an internal temperature of 165°F and no longer pink and juices run clear. Adjust times accordingly as all ovens are different. Vegetables should be tender. Get a small pot on the stove and heat up your chicken stock. Add the cooked spines to the pot and get a gentle boil going. Carefully, harvest the squash flesh and add to a clean mixing bowl or into a high-powered blender. If you are using the bowl, you will need an immersion stick/blender. Begin mashing the flesh. Remove the chicken stock from the heat and lightly add some of the stock to your acorn squash mash. Only add a few tablespoons at a time and continue to blend. It is up to you on how pureed you would like the squash to be. Taste test the acorn squash and make adjustments to your seasonings, if needed.
Smear your acorn squash puree on the plate Serve up some of your roasted vegetables Plate up your marinated cornish hens Garnish is up to you!