Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Asian Spiced Roasted Cornish Hens with Cilantro Arugula Lime Slaw


Cornish hens are brined overnight in Asian spices to absorb the combined flavors of ginger, garlic, kaffir lime leaves, star of anise, sugar, salt and dried chili peppers.  The hens are then roasted in the oven until fully cooked and given a quick broil to slightly crisp the skin.  A cilantro-arugula-lime slaw is served with the hens to compliment the flavors.

This dish could make a good weeknight evening meal. Simply place the cornish hens in the easy to make brine in the morning (or the night before) and refrigerate the hens until ready to cook.  Then simply roast and broil the hens in the oven.  All the cooking is done in the oven, while the cilantro-arugula-lime slaw can be whipped up in less than 5 minutes. Enjoy.

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 4-8 hours to brine
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Special Ingredients: kaffir lime leaves - can usually be found in Asian food specialty stores
Special Tools: food processor

Ingredients:

1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 head of garlic cut in half crosswise
2 inch ginger sliced
10 kaffir lime leaves
15 dried red chili peppers
2 whole star of anise
2 cornish hens cut in half
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup cilantro chopped
1 cup arugula chopped
1 fresh red chili pepper chopped
juice from one lime
freshly ground pepper

Combine the salt, sugar, garlic, ginger, Kaffir lime leaves, red chili peppers, and stars of anise in a large pot with 4 cups water.  Place the pot over high heat and bring it to a mild simmer.  Reduce the heat and stir the ingredients to dissolve the sugar (about 3 minutes).  Remove the pot from the heat and set aside to cool to room temperature (about 10 minutes).  Note: the brine should be cool enough so as not to cook the hens when soaked in the brine.

Place the cornish hens in the cooled brine, cover and refrigerate overnight or for at least four hours.

When ready to cook, set an oven rack about 10 inches below the broiler.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Line the aluminum foil with 2 teaspoons olive oil.  Place the cornish hens onto the baking sheet with breast side up.  Brush the hens with remaining olive oil to coat the meat.   Place the hens to bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until a quick read thermometer inserted in the thickest park of the hen reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

While the hens bake, place the cilantro, arugula, fresh red chili pepper, lime juice and freshly ground pepper into a food processor or blender.  Pulse the ingredients until the leaves are finely minced (about 10 seconds).  Transfer the cilantro arugula slaw to a bowl and set aside.

Once the hens are cooked, bring the oven to a broil.  Broil the hens for 10-12 seconds to slightly darken and bring the skin to a slight crisp.  Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes.  Serve the hens with a spoonful of the cilantro arugula slaw on the side.  Enjoy.