Holiday meal suggestions

When we woke up this morning in Minnesota, there was a beautiful snow falling with large flakes.  It was truly breath-taking.  However, it made the roads unpleasant for some to drive on and most would have rather stayed at home, snuggled up with a blanket drinking a latte and just relaxing.  With that relaxation starting, along comes the butterfly’s fluttering around in some stomaches about how close we truly are to the day of enjoying time with our family and friends.  Then the big flutter starts…”oh my! What do I serve that is not the same as the last 10 years and will impress my company?”

Then, the SPIRITS TO MOVE set in…

Fret no more…here is a wonderful main dish menu that will make all your guests think that you went to a culinary school over the past year!

Enjoy this wonderful meal arranged by Cat Cora’s “Classics with a twist”.

Pomergranate-Glazed Cornish Game Hens with Wild Rice & Chestnut Stuffing             Serves 4

4 Cornish Game Hens

1 cup raw wild rice

2/3 cup coarsely chopped & toasted chestnuts (either fresh or from a jar/can)

1/2 cup finely chopped medium yellow onions

2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh savory

3 tablespoons finely chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley

2 tablespoons kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 cup pomegranate juice

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 to 3 cups chicken stock or water

1/2 cup white wine (optional)

Rinse the rice in cool water, discard the water, and add the rice to a 2-quart saucepan with a lid.  Add 3 cups cold water and a teaspoon of salt.  Bring the rice to a boil and stir once.  Immediately reduce the heat to low, and cover the pot.  Cook over low heat for 45 to 55 minutes, or until all the liquid has evaporated.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  While the rice is cooking, remove the chestnuts from the bottle or can, chop them roughly, and spread them on a baking sheet.  Toast them in the oven for about 10 minutes to remove some of their moisture.  When the chestnuts are done roasting, turn up the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large bowl, mix the cooked wild rice, toasted chestnuts, chopped onion, and herbs.  Pat the game hens dry with a paper towel.  If they have been frozen, be sure they are completely thawed, with gizzards removed.  Lightly sprinkle the cavity of each game hen with salt and loosely fill with stuffing. leave a little space in each for the rice to expand during roasting.  Secure the legs, wings, and opening of each hen by trussing with cotton string. (See the note on trussing at the end of recipe).  You will have stuffing left over.  Spoon it into a small casserole with a lid and set aside or refrigerate.  During the last 25 minutes when the hens are roasting, slide the casserole into the oven to heat.

Rub the skin of the trussed hens with salt and pepper and place breast side down on a rack set in a roasting pan.  Place on the center rack of a preheated oven, and allow the hens to cook for 15 minutes before basting with the dark golden brown and the juices run clear when pierced at the thigh.  Total cooking time will be about 50 to 55 minutes.  An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, not touching the bone, should register 175 degrees to 180 degrees.

Remove the birds from the oven, and transfer them to a platter.  Cover them with foil and let them rest for 10 to 15 minutes.  Place the roasting pan with the juices on the stove top over medium-low heat, add about a half cup of the chicken stock (or water) and scrape up any roasted bits from the bottom of the pan.  (This is a good place to cook from the hip as you can use stock here, a combination of white wine and water or just water.)  Sift the flour into the cooking juices and mix well.  Slowly whisk in another cup and a half of stock (or water) and stir well, and let simmer until the mixture is thick and has no lumps, about 5 to 6 minutes.  Add a few more teaspoons of water or white wine if you’d like the gravy to be thinner.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve, place a bird on each plate, nap with the gravy, & garnish with finely chopped parsley & little extra rice on the side!

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