A Hen By Any Other Name

9 01 2010

Sorry, I just read this, and now have Shakespeare on the brain.  (WARNING: do not click that link if you don’t have at least 30 minutes to appreciate its brilliance.  And come back here when you’re done.  Thanks.)  At any rate, this post owes much more to Martha Stewart than it does to good old Bill.  I received Martha Stewart’s Dinner at Home for Christmas, and so far am loving the inspired seasonal menus and beautiful photography.  I especially love the simplicity of the recipes – I get caught up in the kitchen, occasionally, and it’s nice to have a reminder that sometimes all you have to do is paint a hen with hoisin sauce and let it roast.

White and yellow coquelets

The recipe for hoisin-glazed hens calls for a two pound Cornish game hen per person, which sounds like a lot to me.  Besides, the coquelets (in English: poussins, and in American: Rock Cornish hens) in the grocery store were only about a pound each.  They had both white and yellow ones, and not seeing a price difference, I picked up one of each in order to find out the difference.  Once home, I rubbed them with a mixture of chopped fresh ginger, chili peppers, garlic, and salt.  I stuffed a few branches of cilantro into each cavity, and let the little guys rest for about 20 minutes while I preheated the oven and made the sauce for dessert.  Right before I put them in the oven, I used one of my new pastry brushes (thank you, Mr. Bricolage) to cover the birds with a thin layer of hoisin sauce.  Painting the stuff on was totally fun – one of those kitchen moments where I really wouldn’t rather be doing anything else.  While the hens roasted, I got some rice going on the stove, then painted another layer of sauce on the already gloriously browned hens.  Less than half an hour later, dinner was ready!

A quick, Asian-inspired dinner

I served the juicy, flavorful hens with some homemade sorta-kimchee’d radishes and carrots.  (Really, they were just pickled, with a little Thai fried chili paste mixed into the brine.  None of that complicated fermentation stuff.)  Nick and I switched hens halfway through the meal, to judge the merits of the two colors of hen.  The consensus was that the white one was better for this purpose, i.e. roasting, while the yellow one might shine more in some kind of stewed or slow-cooked application (barbecue, anyone?).

For dessert, I took Martha’s suggestion to simply slice some kiwis and drizzle them with a jasmine tea syrup.  I had to add some ginger to the simmering water, though, as I’m an incurable recipe-tinkerer.  It made a delicious, light finish to the meal.  I have some leftover syrup, and this time inspired by another Christmas gift, David Lebovitz’ The Perfect Scoop, I’m planning on using it to make a kiwi-jasmine granita.  No ice cream maker required!  If I had one, though, and I may, soon, if the gods of the Soldes see fit to smile on my quest, I might whip up a sorbet instead.

Originally published on Croque-Camille.




4 responses

9 01 2010

Ooh, I do hope you grace us with the kiwi-jasmine granita recipe! I, too, lack an ice-cream maker, and am ever on the look-out for frozen treats that don’t require one!

9 01 2010

Lovely, Camille! Sometimes–often?–simpler is better. And I’m with you, the ginger was a Necessary Addition to the tea syrup:)

Hope the New Year is off to a great start.

In the US, those Purdue people make their chickens “yellow” by feeding them marigolds. Is that what makes your guy yellow?

9 01 2010
hungry dog

This sounds and looks amazing. I love hoisin sauce–it’s particularly great with chicken (or hens, as the case may be).

I’m reading DL’S “The Sweet Life in Paris” right now–have you read it? If not, I think you might truly enjoy it!

10 01 2010

Hannah – If it works out, I’ll be sure to let you know.

pastrychef – No idea what makes it yellow. Could be a difference in diet, but they had different body shapes, too. Maybe a different breed? Clearly, I have some research to do.

hungry dog – Got my copy at a book signing last May, and tore through it in a couple of hours. Loved it!

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