Cornish Game Hen with Cabbage – Le Cordon Bleu Style

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This really is a wonderful winter dish, as cabbage, carrots and onions are easily accessible and are reminiscent of hearty, comfort food, but as you can see it can be prepared quite bright and healthy, with a little reconstructing.

This week’s selection from Le Cordon Bleu at Home was called Pintadeaux au Chou, which means guinea hen with cabbage. Not able to get that protein, I happily substituted rock cornish game hen. Cornish game hens are not game at all, nor are they necessarily hens, but after cooking them, I wondered why had I not had one since I was about ten years old.

And my mother said the same thing. When asked if she would share in my cornish game hen dinner, she became excited. “Yes, my mother used to make them for me on Sunday, when I was a kid. This would be ready for me when I came back from ice skating.” And, then I remembered that the only memory I have of cornish game hens was also with my grandmother, and it must have been a Sunday because she was a business woman with very little cooking time, and Sunday was the only day I remember her cooking. My mother felt special being served a whole chicken for herself, even remembering it was served with boiled potatoes and corn.

That was 64 years ago, and it’s remarkable how food hold it’s memory. I could tell it was a happy memory for my mom, and I understood that, because she also worked and I didn’t get as much of her cooking as I would have liked. But, perhaps this is why we are both so comfortable in the kitchen. We learned to cook because our mothers worked, and now we are often cooking together, making up for lost kitchen time.

The Dish

I took a bit of license in my adaptation of the recipe, but the spirit of the dish did indeed prevail. It’s still a rustic, hearty dish, chock full of nutrition, goodness and is quite delicious.

Sausage: The only fresh (non-Italian or non-southern) sausage my butcher had that could make a substitute was bratwurst and I chose to saute it to a nicely browned crispy skin, as the recipe calls for a more steamed sausage under the cabbage preparation. I didn’t use a big portion of sausage, because my goal was to lighten this dish a bit.

Recipe (adapted from Le Cordon Bleu at Home)

Ingredients

  • 2 cornish game hens
  • 1 medium cabbage, cut into quarters
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 6 carrots, sliced
  • 1 large link bratwurst (original recipe uses polish sausage)
  • 4 slices bacon, sliced, cubed (original recipe uses 3/4 pound)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 bay leafs
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 bouquet garni
  • fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper to season and to taste

Instructions

  1. Cook cabbage until softened. Timing will depend on your cooking method. Rinse in cold water. Set aside.Saute onions to transparent in 1 tablespoon butter.
  2. Add carrots. Cook covered on low heat, until carrots are cooked through.Cut bacon into cubes, lardon style. Blanch, drain, add to cooked onions, carrots.Cook sausage. (I put on top of stove in cast iron griddle). Cut into diagonal pieces.
  3. Roast cornish game in oven at 450 degrees for 30 minutes to brown. Add to vegetable casserole on top of stove. (I actually decided to finish off another 20 minutes in oven at a reduced temperature of 400.
  4. Place onions and carrots in large casserole or dutch oven, that can be placed on top of stove. Add cooked sausage, cabbage. Add some water or broth. Cover and cook so all flavors meld.
  5. Here is my major departure from original recipe. I’m now supposed to take the poultry and place in dutch oven on top of stove. I chose to finish off in oven, and to put altogether on this dish.

A Favorite Dish: The Whisk Wednesday group decided we should showcase a favorite dish. I had already written a post on dishes (not yet published) so this was timely, because I had forgotten this dish which I actually used to serve this dinner in, and it’s a favorite. I also have much larger platter that features rosemary. I fell in love with these platters because of their simplicity.

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