Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Accidentally On Purpose

 You know what I love? Cornish hens. They're just mini chickens! And as humans, we're biologically programmed to love miniature baby things. So it makes perfect sense to love these tiny chickens and want to eat the crap out of them (maybe not literally). Except for the part where they require so much work to dismantle and consume... But I got to use my hands to eat, so for me, I broke even in the end.

I'm not sure if you know, but I've mentioned before I'm an enormous dork. I watch entirely too much scifi and fantasy stuff. I would probably hug you if you told me to go frak myself. And then after we hugged, we could talk about how we both would switch sides for Lee Adama/Kara Thrace. If you told me you were sick of my goram attitude, I'd call you ching-wah TSAO duh liou mahng. And if you tell me the greatest love story ever was between 10 and Rose, we might make out on the spot. I don't care who you are.

But what does this have to do with cornish hens and paleo cooking? Among the many great things that these kinds of universes provide in terms of entertainment, they also give some great cooking advice believe it or not. The hubby and I just got Amazon Prime, and in the list of the instant free streaming is a little show called Falling Skies. It's dark (aliens attack and steal our children) and kinda creepy, but there's one nutty character, John Pope, who used to be a chef. He's kinda crazy, and in the third episode of the first season, he's captured by the good guys and kept in a makeshift prison in their high school hideout. As you can imagine, food is short in post-apocalyptic alien-inhabited Earth. But Pope? He literally gives no sh*ts about the scarcity of food, much less good food. He kind of freaks out when he's given chicken, with paprika on it, and proceeds to tell us that a chicken should be lightly poached before it's grilled or broiled so it retains the juiciness of poultry. We're not living with crazy aliens called Skitters, but far be it from me to ignore the advice of a crazed lunatic on a scifi show.

With this in mind, and two cornish hens thawed in my sink, I got to work. For this recipe, which was totally a shot in the dark, you will need:

2 cornish hens
1 stock pot of water
1tsp sea salt
1tsp tuscan seasoning (or italian seasoning, or you know, whatever tastes good to you)
1 piece of pork skin (I know we all have this in our freezers... or some chicken broth/boullion for those that don't)

Put your thawed cornish hens in the water with the seasonings and bring the water to a light boil. Total time in the hot water should be about 15 minutes, being sure not to cook the snot out of it. You want to poach it just enough to cook the inside of the hen, but not enough so that it falls off the bones. When this is done, take the hens out of the boiling water with tongs (save that broth! let's use it for something else!) and let them rest for a minute or two. Then transfer them to a hot grill. Or broil them if you like. The grill is better as it crisps up all sides and who doesn't love crunchy chicken skin. Communists, that's who. When they're on the grill, I like to sprinkle a little salt on the skin. I was probably a deer in a past life because I could have a salt lick in my living room and not be embarrassed.

Once they're grilled up on the outside, take them off the grill and let them sit for a few minutes. One of the worst abuses when cooking meat is scarfing it up right away. Let that sucker sit. If you cut it open too early, all the good stuff leaks out instead of staying in every bite. So leave it! For at least five minutes.

Now. When I was starting this dish, I was wondering what I was going to eat with it. I already had boiling and seasoned water, so I figured, let's throw some potatoes in that hot mother and make a mashed potato puree. So now. I give you, Sweet Potato and Coconut Cream Puree with Capers. It sounds weird, and kinda gross, but hot damn is it yummy.

You will need:

1 shallot
1tsp crushed garlic
2tsp coconut oil
2 sweet potatoes (we have white ones here, but I guess you could use yams)
1/2c. coconut cream (I got some kind in a tetrapak from Indonesia at my local health store)
1/3c. coconut milk
1/2tsp salt
2 sprigs fresh oregano (maybe 1tsp dried?)
Fresh ground pepper
Capers for garnish (sounds weird, but GOOD! trust me)

Slice the shallot thinly and fry it in a pan on medium heat with the coconut oil and garlic. Set it aside to cool once the shallots are translucent and the garlic is fragrant, about 5 minutes. Cut up the sweet potatoes into 1 inch sections and put them into your poaching liquid you used for the hens. Boil them on high until they're done, or soft when you skewer them with a fork. Drain the liquid and throw your potatoes into a food processor. Add the coconut cream and milk, salt, pepper and oregano. Add the fried shallots and garlic. Blend this together until it's smooth, or lumpy I guess if you like that texture. Feel free to add any other seasonings you might like. This is what I had on hand, like pretty much everything else in this recipe...

Now, put some potato puree on your plate, sprinkle it with capers and grab a hen. The sour salt of the capers is a nice accompaniment to the sweet creamy texture of the potatoes. And all of it goes well with the poached yet crispy cornish hen. This was actually super yummy, and entirely on accident.  Well mostly on accident. Some of it was on purpose... Sometimes I think I just get lucky when I go out on a limb and throw things together, but I'd be happy to pass along my successes to you. Like this dish!


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