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Truffle-Scented Cornish Game Hens with Prosciutto & Wild Mushrooms

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Serves six.

Earthy mushrooms and rich, heady truffle oil make this dish a holiday standout. For the wild mushrooms, I like to use a mix of chanterelles, porcini, and morels.

  • 6 Cornish game hens (about 1-1/2 lb. each), neck and giblets removed and discarded or saved for-stock, hens rinsed and patted dry
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 3/4 lb. fresh wild mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1-1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 3 thin slices prosciutto (2 oz. total) cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 3 Tbs. white truffle oil

Season the cavity of each hen with salt and pepper. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 1 Tbs. of the butter. Add the mushrooms and season with salt and a few grinds of pepper. Add the thyme and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are soft and the juices have evaporated, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl to cool. Stir in the prosciutto and truffle oil.

Heat the oven to 425°F. Insert your fingertips at the wing end of the breast and gently loosen the skin over the breast and around the legs, being careful not to tear the skin. Divide the stuffing into six equal portions of about 2 Tbs. each. Place one portion of the stuffing under the skin and with your fingers, distribute it evenly over the breast and thigh. With kitchen twine, tie the legs together. Tuck the wings underneath. Repeat with each hen.

Arrange the birds breast side up on a wire rack set  in a shallow roasting pan (or two). Melt the remaining 2 Tbs. butter and use half to brush over the hens. Season each hen with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes and brush with the remaining melted butter. Roast until the juices run clear when you prick the thickest part of the thigh and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thigh registers 170°F, another 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer the hens to a platter, tent with foil, and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 1020; Fat (g): fat g 64; Fat Calories (kcal): 570; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 18; Protein (g): protein g 104; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 27; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 3; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 12; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 1510; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 345; Fiber (g): fiber g 1;

Photo: Amy Albert

We love truffles so I added truffle salsa and truffle oil. For the mushrooms I used morels. I set the whole hen on top of a bed of risotto made from fennel, onion, garlic, zucchini and button mushrooms vermouth and chicken stock. Basically, the risotto consisted of whatever I had in the fridge that would go together. In its very strong and earthy flavours, this is an adult meal. Next time, I will stuff the hens 24 hours before in order for the truffle oils and the morels to permeate the meat.

We love truffles so I added truffle salsa and truffle oil. For the mushrooms I used morels. I set the whole hen on top of a bed of risotto made from fennel, onion, garlic, zucchini and button mushrooms vermouth and chicken stock. Basically, the risotto consisted of whatever I had in the fridge that would go together. In its very strong and earthy flavours, this is an adult meal. Next time, I will stuff the hens 24 hours before in order for the truffle oils and the morels to permeate the meat.

Having just tried this, I have a few recommendations as to how to improve upon the recipe. Firstly, cut back on the truffle oil. Knowing that it has a very strong flavour (and that it's expensive), I added 1 tablespoon to begin with and found this to be more than sufficient. They are, after all, supposed to be "scented", not "saturated", with truffle flavor. Even with just one tablespoon, I couldn't taste the prosciutto. Secondly, double the stuffing recipe. I made the whole batch of stuffing for 3 cornish hens and found it to be just right. Finally, butterfly the hens and press them flat to roast. They cook and brown more evenly this way and are neatly split at the breast bone in order to feed 2 people each.

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