- 3 Cornish hens, about 5 pounds total
- 3 tablespoons cooking oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 1 rib celery, chopped
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 3 cups Chicken Stock, or canned low-sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 4 shallots, chopped
- 1 1/2 pounds asparagus, peeled and cut into 1-inch lengths
- 1 cup fresh or frozen petite peas
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
How to make this recipe
- Cut away the backs from the Cornish hens. Cut each hen into quarters. In a large pot, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over moderately high heat. Add the backs and cook until very brown, about 8 minutes. Discard all but a teaspoon of fat. Add the onion, carrot and celery and cook 3 minutes longer. Add the wine and simmer 2 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to dislodge any brown bits. Add the stock. Bring to a boil and simmer until the stock has reduced to 2 cups. Strain the stock. Press the vegetables and bones firmly to get all the liquid. Set the stock aside.
- Combine 1/2 cup of the flour, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Dredge each hen quarter in the seasoned flour. In a frying pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over moderately high heat. Add some of the Cornish hen quarters and cook until brown, about 4 minutes per side. Remove. Brown the remaining quarters.
- In a large pot, heat the butter over moderate heat. Add the shallots and cook until beginning to turn golden, about 3 minutes. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the hens with any juice that has accumulated, the reserved stock and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer over moderate heat. Reduce the heat and cook, covered, at a bare simmer for 5 minutes. Add the asparagus and fresh peas, if using. Simmer until the hens are just done and the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes longer.
- Add the frozen peas, if using, the cream, lemon zest, tarragon and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bring back to a simmer and serve.
The creamy texture and taste of this stew and the flavor of asparagus both work well with a young, assertive bottle of Sauvignon Blanc from Bordeaux or the Loire Valley in France, or from New Zealand.