This was probably the easiest Christmas dish I’ve ever cooked. The two Cornish hens I bought in Chinatown cost me less than $10. All I had to do was ask the butcher to cut off the head and the feet. My large Dutch oven fit both of them that I was able to brown and roast under 45 minutes. The first time I tried this recipe, I used Silkie chicken. This time, I used the game hens but made the marinade with pomegranate molasses rather than seeds. My favorite part is sautÃ©eing the orange peels in butter until fragrant–one of the least expensive ways to make a dish smell and look festive. I wish you were here. Merry Christmas.
2 Cornish game hens, rinsed and patted dry
1 cup Marsala
2 tbsps pomegranate molasses
fresh sage leaves
a handful of mint leaves, chopped
zest of 1 orange, cut into 1/4-inch strips
1 tbsp butter
salt, pepper, olive oil
1. Make marinade. In a small bowl, mix the Marsala with the pomegranate and mint. Set aside, covered, for 1 hour.
2. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 350Âº. Season the birds inside and out with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine. In a Dutch oven, heat the butter with olive oil over high heat. Add 3 sage leaves and cook for 1 minute. Brown the hens on all sides. Lower the heat and add the rest of the sage leaves.
3. Transfer the pot to the oven and roast the hens for 7 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, drizzle 3 tablespoons of the marinade and dot with some butter. Baste the hens with the juices and roast for another 10 minutes or until the juices run clear when the thighs are pierced with a fork.
4. Meanwhile, in a small pot, heat some more butter and cook orange zest for 5 minutes until the zest absorbs the butter. Remove from heat.
5. Transfer the hens in a dish, sprinkle with zest and drizzle with pan juices.