Valentine’s Day Dinner: Cornish Hens with Wild Rice

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Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday this year, so restaurants will most likely be a little hectic.   So plan a romantic at-home date and treat your Valentine with a home cooked meal made with love featuring Cornish Hens, Wild Rice with Mushrooms and Green Beans Almondine.

Wine Pairing:

Game birds tend to have earthy flavors that are more robust than chicken and as this meal has mushrooms,  red wine with earthy aromas such as Pinot Noir will pair best.  I would recommend Pinot Noir from Oregon with flavor profiles such as cherry, raspberry, truffle and mushrooms.

Cornish Game Hen 

A Cornish game hen is a young chicken weighing less than 2 pounds.  It’s normally cooked in the same manner as chicken and the most popular method of cooking is roasting, with or without stuffing.

Notes:

  • Aromatics such as onion, garlic & lemon adds  flavor to the meat as it cooks and also prevents from getting dry
  • If baking more than 2 hens, do not over crowd the baking sheet as the skin will not turn crispy if too close together
  • Roasting at a higher temperature the first 20-25 minutes results a crispier skin. You can omit this step and roast in 375 degrees F for the entire duration if desired.

Ingredients 

  • 2 Cornish hens
  • 1  onion, sliced
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 springs, fresh rosemary or other herbs ( optional)
  • 3-4 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Remove and discard necks and giblets from hen; rinse and pat dry with a paper towel.

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Place hens on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil or roasting pan.  Rub with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper

Place sliced lemon, onion, garlic and rosemary into each cavity of hen. Tuck the wing tips under the body of the hens.

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Roast for 20 minutes in the preheated oven. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F and continue to roast for about 25 minutes or until golden brown. 

Remove from the oven, cover with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving or slicing. Discard aromatics in the cavity before transferring to a serving plate.

Wild Rice with Mushrooms

Wild Rice

Ingredients 

  • 2-3 cups cooked wild rice (prepare rice according to package directions)
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced ( shiitake, cremini, button, etc) 
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup dried cherries or cranberries ( optional)   
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional garnish: green onions, parsley, etc 

Directions

Heat butter in a skillet and sauté mushrooms over medium heat until golden.

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Add garlic and dried fruit and continue to sauté for a few minutes. Add cooked rice to skillet and mix well. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Transfer to a serving plate and garnish as desired.   

Green Beans Almondine 

Green Beans Almondine

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound of green beans, root ends removed
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup slivered almonds
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

Cook green beans in a large pot of salted water until crisp-tender, about 3-4 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water  to stop the cooking process. Dry thoroughly with a kitchen towel/paper towel. 

(Tip: the above step can be done the day before and stored in the refrigerator)

Melt butter in a large skillet. Add almonds and sauté for a few minutes until browned.

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To the skillet, add cooked green beans, lemon zest/juice, salt and pepper and toss to coat, continuing to cook beans for a few minutes, until tender.

Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. 

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