- Cooking Time: 30 minutes
- Servings: 4
- Preparation Time: 20 minutes
- 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.
NotesMoist, 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.