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Fricassee of Game Hen


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  • For stock
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Backbones and wing tips from 3 Cornish hens
  • 6 cups cold water
  • 3 cups chopped reserved leek greens (see below)
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 celery rib, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 large thyme sprigs
  • 1 whole clove
  • 1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
  • 1/8 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • For fricassee
  • 3 Cornish hens, quartered, backbones and wing tips removed with kitchen shears
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 leeks (about 3 lb), greens reserved for stock
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup vadouvan (Indian spice blend)



Step 1

Make stock:
Heat oil in a heavy medium pot over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Cook backbones and wing tips until well browned on all sides. Add water and bring to a boil, skimming froth occasionally. Add remaining ingredients and boil, uncovered, 30 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean saucepan, pressing on and then discarding solids. Boil stock until reduced to about 2 cups.Make fricassee:
Pat hens dry and season with 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Heat oil in a deep 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Brown hens in batches (without crowding), turning once, about 8 minutes per batch. Transfer to a plate.
Halve white and pale green parts of leeks lengthwise, then cut into 1-inch pieces and wash. Pour off all but 1 Tbsp fat from skillet, then cook leeks with 1 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally and scraping up brown bits, until leeks begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add wine and bring to a boil. Stir in stock, cream, and vadouvan. Nestle hens, skin sides up, into leeks. Cover with a round of parchment paper. Gently simmer 10 minutes. Remove parchment and simmer until hens are cooked through, about 10 minutes more. Transfer hens to a platter and simmer sauce to thicken slightly if desired.
Cooks’ note: Fricassee can be made 1 day ahead and chilled. Reheat gently.

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