Prosicutto Wrapped Cornish Game Hen with Polenta
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup coarse cornmeal
4 cornish game hens
Freshly ground black pepper
8 fresh sage leaves
8 thin slices speck or prosciutto
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 small carrot, finely diced
1 small shallot, finely chopped
⅓ cup dry white wine
½ pound fresh wild mushrooms such as trumpet, crimini or porcini, trimmed, halved or quartered, if large
2 small garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
Extra-virgin olive oil
Special equipment: Wooden picks or 6-inch skewers, soaked well before using, if bamboo (if you have them. If not, I just used toothpicks)
Heat oven to 450°.
Meanwhile, discard any innards from cavity of cornish game hen; rinse inside and out, pat dry and season cavity and outside with salt and pepper. Put 1 sage leaf into the cavity of 1 cornish game hen; place a second sage leaf on top of breast side. Wrap breast of cornish game hen with 1 prosciutto slice, turn and repeat on the other side. Thread cavity closed with a skewer (or toothpicks). Repeat with remaining cornish game hen.
In a large ovenproof skillet, heat butter over medium heat until melted and bubbles form; add cornish game hen, breast side down. Sear for 7 minutes, breast side down, then turn breast side up and sear for another 7 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven and roast for 6 minutes; roasting until just cooked through (check inner thigh—meat will still be slightly pink, and a thermometer should read 165 degrees F).
Remove pan from oven; transfer to a plate. Reserve pan (with drippings).
In a separate heavy saucepan bring chicken stock to a boil; gradually whisk in cornmeal. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, until polenta is very thick and pulls away from side of pan, 8 to 10 minutes.
In the reserved chicken pan, add carrot and shallot to skillet (skillet handle will be very hot; use a heavy pot holder to handle); place pan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until carrot is tender, about 8 minutes. Add wine, increase heat to medium-high and simmer for 1 minute. Add mushrooms, garlic, chives and pinch salt and pepper and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are just tender, 2 to 3 minutes more.
Spoon polenta and vegetables onto plates. Top with cornish game hen. Drizzle with pan drippings and serve.
Pairs Well With
Moist, plump cornish game hen that is robust with flavor sits atop a creamy polenta and is surrounded by earthy, tender mushrooms and sweet carrots and topped with the pan sauces as a dynamic finishing touch.