Braised and Browned Rock Cornish Game Hens in Spicy Liver Sauce (Tagine Mhammer)
- SERVINGS: 6
Here the livers are cooked right along with the hens in a mildly seasoned sauce, mashed to a paste and then returned to the sauce, where they act as a subtle thickener.
- 1/8 teaspoon powdered saffron
- 2 teaspoons coarse (kosher) salt
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 3 Rock Cornish game hens (about 1 pound each), livers and necks reserved
- 1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika, preferably medium-sweet
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 large garlic cloves
- 10 sprigs of fresh coriander, tied into a bunch
- 3/4 cup grated onion (1 medium onion)
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup clarified butter
- 1 cup toasted blanched almonds
- In a small bowl, mix the saffron, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1 tablespoon of water with the melted butter. Rub all over the skin of the hens. Set aside at room temperature for about 2 hours.
- In a large flameproof casserole, place each hen on its side and add the livers and necks. Sprinkle with the ginger, paprika, cumin and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Heat gently, cover, take the pot in your hands and give it a good swirl.
- Crush the garlic to a paste with the remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt. Add to the casserole along with the coriander, garlic, onion and enough water to just cover the hens. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the hens are very tender, about 1 hour.
- Carefully remove the hens without allowing them to break apart. Set on a platter to cool and drain. Remove the livers from the casserole and transfer to a small bowl. With a slotted spoon, remove and discard the necks and coriander.
- Add 3 tablespoons of the cooking liquid to the livers. Mash to a paste with a fork.
- Bring the remaining cooking liquid in the casserole to a boil over high heat and boil until reduced to about 1 1/2 cups. Stir in the livers and simmer for a few minutes to blend the flavors and thicken the sauce. Adjust the seasoning with a pinch of salt, cumin and/or paprika, as desired. (The recipe can be prepared to this point up to 3 hours in advance. Set aside at cool room temperature. Shortly before serving, gently reheat the sauce, stirring occasionally.)
- In a large skillet, heat the oil and clarified butter over high heat. Add the hens, in batches if necessary, and cook, turning, until browned all over. (Use a splatter screen to protect yourself from the hot fat.) As the birds brown, transfer to a deep round serving platter and hold in a warm oven. Alternatively, the hens can be halved and browned under the broiler, but the skin will not be as crust crusty. Serve the hens surrounded with the sauce and topped with the almonds.
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