I've always enjoyed cooking and eating Cornish Game Hens, but I got dissuaded in 2009 during a dinner party. It was my last time making them, and instead of ridiculous little baseballs, I had pretty hefty chickens. I noticed that local grocery stores weren't carrying them as much, and the ones that were tended to be enormous. And while I don't mind using stranger smaller chickens, I figured that the days of individual servings were over.
As is often the case when you get irritated about a certain food, you stop looking at it and then it becomes invisible. But in my continuing joy of cooking things that are new to Julia, I decided to give the game hen another try. And surprisingly, the local Super Target had a bunch of them in the freezer for around $3 a pop. And more importantly, they were small. Not frail like quail, but the stocky little bantams I'd come to love years ago.
I was going to do simple salt and pepper for the ladies, followed with something spicier for myself, but I rolled the dice and ground up a little mole sauce using dried guajillos, cocoa powder, walnuts, garlic, olive oil, and a few other bits of magic. I thoroughly coated all three birds and roasted them in a hot oven. For sides, a little red cabbage and apples, some multicolored baby potatoes, and suddenly we've got a simple winter meal that's packed full of flavor. The game hens and potatoes were a big hit, with mixed reviews on the cabbage. Now I'm wishing I'd added a lot more vinegar to that particular dish, but I'm happy with the way everything turned out.
While possibly not the ideal pairing, the margaritas from Monday's post turned out to be a very fun and tasty accompaniment to lunch on a rainy Saturday afternoon in January.