Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Holiday Hens

Merry Christmas! I enjoy the winter holidays even though I'm not the least bit religious. As my boss A puts it, "The version I celebrate involves only a red fat man, and has nothing to do with religion". I don't bother to correct him that the original Saint Nicholas was a Greek Bishop.

On the menu for tonight:

Mushroom Corn Chowder
Cumin and Paprika Roasted Potatoes
Cornish Game Hen with Garlic and Rosemary Butter
Spiced Pumpkin Pie

I was a little nervous about the hen--I've never cooked a whole bird before, and I think such things always garner a little apprehensiveness the first time around. It all turned out alright, though, and the hen was savory and juicy.

Mushroom Corn Chowder
4 cups assorted mushroom, sliced
2 cups frozen corn kernels
4 cups chicken stock
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup heavy cream
3 tbsp butter
1 tbsp fresh thyme

~Put the butter, onions, garlic, mushrooms, and potatoes in a large pot and saute over medium-high heat until the onions turn translucent.
~Add the chicken stock and thyme and bring pot to a simmer. Cook until potatoes are tender.
~Add heavy cream, and simmer uncovered to thicken, then add corn and cook until heated through. Salt and pepper to taste, and serve steaming hot with crusty baguette.

Cumin and Paprika Roasted Potatoes

4 medium red potatoes, cut into 1" pieces
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp sea salt

~Whisk olive oil, cumin, paprika, and sea salt in a mixing bowl. Toss potatoes in the dressing to coat evenly.
~Heat oven to 450˚F. Spread potatoes on a baking tray in a single layer and roast until the edges are brown and crispy, about 30 minutes.

Cornish Game Hen with Garlic Herb Butter

2 Cornish game hens
3 tbsp salted butter, softened
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lemon, cut into wedges
1/8 cup white wine
1/8 cup chicken broth
1 tbsp olive oil
sea salt

~Strip one sprig of rosemary of leaves and chop finely. In a small bowl mix the butter, chopped rosemary, thyme, and garlic.
~Rub hens with the butter mixture; make sure to rub butter under the skin as well.
~Place a lemon wedge and sprig of rosemary in each chicken, and season lightly with salt and pepper.
~Heat oven to 450˚F. Place the hens breast-up in a baking dish and roast for 20 minutes.
~Whisk together the white wine, chicken broth, and olive oil, and drizzle over the hens. Reduce heat to 350˚F, and roast until the meat thermometer reads 165 degrees when stuck in the thigh, about 25 minutes, basting every 10 minutes with pan juices.
~Drain any drippings and reserve for gravy or dipping; tent foil over the hens and let them rest for 15 minutes before serving.

Spiced Pumpkin Pie

1 1/4 cups flour
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cubed
1/2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
ice water

1 15oz can of pumpkin puree
3 large eggs and 2 egg yolks
1 cup evaporated milk
2/3 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of maple syrup
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 ground cloves
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp salt

~For the crust, whisk together flour, sugar and salt until well mixed.
~With a pastry blender, cut in the cold butter until the butter pieces are the size of small peas.
~Drizzle 1/4 cup of ice water over the butter and flour mixture; use a silicone spatula to press the dough into a ball. If needed, add more ice water a tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together.
~Knead the pie crust gently until the dough becomes smooth; try not to knead in the lumps of butter--this is what will make a flaky crust!
~Roll out the dough about 1/8" thick on a floured surface and drape to fit into pie plate; trim the excess crust to 1/2" beyond the edge of pie plate and fold excess under itself. Make a fluted edge with your fingers, or use a fork to press a pattern into the edge.
~Refrigerate pie plate for about 15 minutes until the dough is firm.
~Line pie plate with a sheet of parchment paper and fill with weights (glass marbles, dried beans, uncooked rice, or pie weights) and blind bake the crust for 15 minutes at 425˚F; take plate from the oven, gently remove paper and weights. Brush crust with beaten egg and return pie plate to oven, reducing temperature to 375˚F, and bake for another 5 minutes until the crust is golden.

~To make the filling, whisk evaporated milk, eggs, and yolks together in mixing bowl.
~In a pot, mix together pumpkin puree, salt, sugar, maple syrup, and spices and warm up over the stove on medium heat. Whisk in milk and eggs mixture until smooth, and pour in warm pie crust.
~Bake filled pie at 400˚F for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 300˚F and bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until the edges are set.
~Remove pie from the oven and let cool at room temperature; residual heat will finish cooking the filling, so don't put it in the refrigerator.
~Serve with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream!

I hope you enjoyed my Christmas Dinner...till next year!