I hope the title alone got your attention. And this is only half of what I will be sharing with you. Next week, you get even more including appetizer, soup, and dessert. What are they? My secret until next Friday.
But enough of the teasing, let’s talk about just sitting down to dinner with your honey and another couple. This is the kind of meal where you can catch up with each other, moan and complain about all the shopping that still needs to be done and just sit and relax. We all need those evenings when the holiday rush can just be put on hold.
I’ve put together a meal that is pretty easy and mucho delishioso. Cornish game hens are a snap to fix taking all of 75 minutes to cook, while the salad and side dish can be made up while the hens are cooking. One ingredient in the game hen recipe that follows is Basil Pesto. You can use store bought, but I recommend this recipe from earlier this year. The best pesto you’ll ever taste.
Here are the ingredients for the game hens:
Now usually I serve one hen per person and that usually works out just right for us. Salt, pepper, olive oil, and pesto. The chicken broth and starch are for the gravy. Yes, pesto gravy. Can you smell it yet? Yummers.
Wash the hens well. Sometimes they will come with giblets but you won’t need them for this recipe. Pat the hens dry and salt and pepper the insides of the hens. Put your finger in between the breast skin and meat separating it. This pocket is where the pesto will reside. With a spoon insert enough pesto into each breast side, washing spoon each time before dipping it back into the pesto container. Rub a little of the pesto over the outside of the breast, thighs, and drumsticks. Salt and pepper the outside as well. Dribble some olive oil over the whole hen, tie the legs together and place on roasting sheet lined with foil.Roast these little jewels at 350˚ for 75 minutes. Remove and let sit for 10 minutes. This allows some of the juices to return to the meat making it moist. Once they have sat for a bit, place on a serving plate. Grab a sandwich bag and pour the remaining juices into it.
Seal the bag, place in small bowl and put into the refrigerator for 5 minutes. This will allow the fat to rise to the top and the gravy goodness to the bottom. Remember the measuring cups that had the lower spout on it for just this purpose? I never got the hang of it but the sandwich bag thing works for me. Now to be honest, I had to leave for an appointment at this point so my sandwich bag was in the refrigerator for an hour. This is what it looked like when I went to pour it all off.
Using a saucepan, pour the chicken broth drippings heating until just a low boil. Add the starch (corn or arrowroot powder) and water together to form a liquidy paste. Add to the the broth and drippings. Slowly bring to a boil, stirring so it doesn’t stick. This is your Pesto Gravy! I like to pour the entire thing over the hens right before serving.
Now that your entree is done….time to make up that salad dressing. This is a combination of Harrah’s Steak House, Betty Crocker and moi. If you’ve ever had the Harrah’s table side Caesar Salad, you know of what I speak. Hoity toity and man oh man, so good! Here is where I first had Tabasco Sauce in a Caesar dressing and it makes a wonderful little zing in your mouth.
This recipe is just for the dressing alone…not the croutons or what type of lettuce to use. I always use Romaine lettuce for our Caesar Salads and I made the croutons pictured here in the corner from some Paleo bread I had on hand.
First, do not fear the anchovies. They are your friends. Trust me. Pour the olive oil, anchovies (yes, the entire can), garlic, Worcestershire Sauce, Tobasco Sauce, and Dijon mustard into the bowl of your food processor. You’ll need one coddled egg (boil egg for 2 minutes; lift out of water with spoon). Crack your egg into the food processor as well. Squirt lemon juice over the egg. (It’s my good luck charm of cooking the egg via ceviche way). Turn the processor on pulse. Pulse until well mixed. That is your dressing. Pretty easy right? The amount of garlic to be used is entirely up to you. At Harrah’s, they rub the salad bowl itself with cut garlic. The first time I saw that, I was thinking, “What? That’s all the garlic I get?” But they added more for me. I like distinctive flavors.
Using the lettuce you’ve chosen, place into salad bowl, mix in the croutons and Parmesan cheese. Top with a spoonful of dressing. Toss well, tasting to see if you need more dressing. You will. Don’t eat the entire salad before serving it to your guests.
And finally, here is your side dish…Asparagus with Ruffled Eggs.This is super simple and super tasty. Preheat your oven to 400˚ to roast the asparagus. Clean and trim asparagus and line a baking sheet with foil for placement. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 10 minutes, toss, continue roasting for an additional 5 minutes or until they are cooked to your desire of doneness.
Grab a ramekin and some plastic wrap. Place the wrap into the ramekin bowl and spray with olive oil. I used some cut up Italian parsley and thyme on the bottom of the wrap. The amount of herbs shown is for four eggs. Next break the egg into the wrap and twist up.
I held the egg wrap in the boiling water until it set up a bit before I let it float by itself. Total time cooked would be like a poached egg. If you like it runny, cook for three minutes. If you want it more solid, cook for four minutes.
And here is what your Ruffled Egg will look like once you place it on individual servings of roasted asparagus. Once cut into, the yolk will run and coat the veggies making a wonderful sauce
So here are three pieces of your holiday meal. I hope you enjoy them as much as we did!
Pesto Game Hens
- 2 teaspoons pesto per game hen
- Sea salt and pepper
- olive oil for dribbling
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch or arrowroot powder if eating Paleo
- 1 tablespoon water
Wash and pat dry game hens. If giblets enclosed in hen, discard. Separate skin from breast meat and tuck in a teaspoon of pesto under the skin on both sides of the breast. Rub pesto on outside of hen as well. Salt and pepper inside cavity along with the outside. Sprinkle olive oil over the hen. Roast for 75 minutes at 350˚. Remove from oven and let rest 5 minutes. Place on serving plate. Pour drippings into a sandwich bag and let sit for 5 minutes as fat will float to top. Holding bag over small dish, clip one corner of bag to allow drippings and not fat to pour into dish. Discard remaining fat. In saucepan, heat drippings and chicken broth to low simmer. In ramekin, mix together the cornstarch (arrowroot powder) and water to form a paste. Add this to broth/drippings mixture in saucepan. Turn heat higher and allow to come to rolling boil, stirring or whisking until mixture thickens. Pour gravy over game hens and serve.
Asparagus with Ruffled Eggs
- one to two bunches of asparagus depending on how grocer bands them. One bunch usually serves two people.
- as many eggs as servings
- olive oil
- fresh herbs; totaling 1 tablespoon
- Sea salt and pepper
- Olive oil cooking spray
- plastic wrap
Clean and trim bottom of asparagus, about one inch from bottom tip. Line a baking sheet with foil and place asparagus on it. Dribble olive oil over asparagus. Season with sea salt and pepper. Roast in 400˚ oven for 10 minutes. Toss asparagus and return to oven, roasting for an additional 5 minutes. Depending on the thickness of the spears, you may have to roast longer.
Ruffled eggs: Using ramekins, tear off about a foot square of plastic wrap and place into ramekin. Spray with olive oil cooking spray. Sprinkle fresh herbs, sea salt and pepper onto the bottom of the wrap. Break on egg onto the wrap. Twist wrap up. In a small pan, have boiling water ready. Holding wrapped egg place into boiling water for 30 seconds or until it is ‘set’ along the sides. Once it is set, let go of the wrap and let egg cook. Cook as long as you would for a poached egg. Three minutes for runny center, four minutes for set center. Take wrapped eggs out of water and unwrap. Each egg goes on top of roasted asparagus when served.
Caesar Salad Dressing
- one flat anchovies, fish and oil are used (do not buy anchovies in soy oil!)
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2-3 dashes of Tabasco Sauce
- 1/2 fresh lemon
- 1 container Parmesan cheese
- 1 egg
- slightly less than 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
In food processor, add together fish and oil, garlic, mustard, Tabasco, olive oil, and Worcestershire sauce. Coddle one egg. When cooked add to the mixture in processor. Squeeze lemon juice over egg. Pulse mixture until well blended. Serve over lettuce (romaine), adding croutons and Parmesan cheese.
I hope you enjoy all this food!