Cornish Hens with Porcini-Rice Stuffing
- ACTIVE: 40 MIN
- TOTAL TIME: 2 HR 30 MIN
- SERVINGS: 4
Small, flavorful Cornish hens, roasted to a caramel brown and stuffed with buttery porcini-flecked arborio rice, make for a terrific, simple dinner-party meal.
- 1/2 cup dried porcini (1/2 ounce)
- 1/2 cup boiling water
- 3 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon softened
- 1 small onion, minced
- 1 celery rib, minced, plus 1 tablespoon minced celery leaves
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Two 1 1/4-pound Cornish game hens
- 1/4 cup dry red wine, such as Barbera
- Preheat the oven to 350°. In a heatproof bowl, cover the dried porcini with the boiling water and let stand until the mushrooms are softened, about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a boil. Add the rice and simmer over moderate heat until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain the rice; reserve the broth in a covered container in the refrigerator.
- In the same saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter. Add the onion, celery and celery leaves and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 7 minutes. Drain the porcini, reserving the soaking liquid. Coarsely chop the porcini. Add them to the saucepan and cook for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Pour in 1/4cup of the mushroom-soaking liquid; reserve the rest. Add the rice to the saucepan along with the cheese, season with salt and pepper and stir well.
- Put the Cornish hens in a medium flameproof roasting pan. Stuff the cavities with the rice; you will have about 1 cup of stuffing left over. Wrap the remaining rice in a foil packet. Spread the 1 tablespoon of softened butter over both hens' breasts and legs and season the hens inside and out with salt and pepper.
- Roast the hens in the upper third of the oven until nicely browned and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of a thigh registers 165°, about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Transfer the hens to a platter and let rest in a warm place for 10 minutes. Increase the oven temperature to 400°. Bake the foil packet of stuffing until hot, about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, set the roasting pan over moderately high heat. Add the wine and scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a spoon. Add in the reserved rice-cooking broth. Pour in the reserved mushroom-soaking liquid, stopping before you reach the grit at the bottom. Simmer over moderate heat until reduced to 1 cup, 10 minutes. Season the gravy with salt and pepper and pour it into a warmed gravy boat.
- Using a sharp, heavy knife, cut the hens in half and arrange on a platter, stuffing side down. Pass the gravy at the table along with the extra rice stuffing.
Barbera, with its bright acidity, is an ideal wine match for this wonderfully rich dish.