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CORNISH HENS WITH LEMONGRASS AND CHILI’S

With winter upon us, I wanted to share a one-pot dish that would warm the stomach on a cold February night.  A few years ago, I found this recipe in Food & Wine Magazine.  I have prepared it several times.  In fact, I have made the dish so often that I usually prepare it off the top of my head.  The recipe is truly THAT easy.  And the soup is always a hit with the family!

I love the game hens, but often chicken is more readily on hand.  I think chicken stock makes the dish richer than just using water; I use all of the game hen, including the backs, and I cut it up myself. (Why bother the butcher?) When lemon grass is not available, a bit of lemon juice works just fine, and adding a bit of sriracha is always nice.  But for now, I have presented the recipe here, in its original form, without any embellishments from me.  I will leave it up to you to add your own spin on this delicious soup that is perfect for taking the chill off a winter evening.

  1. 1 tablespoon dried green peppercorns
  2. Two 1 1/2-pound Cornish hens
  3. Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  4. 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  5. 5 dried red chiles
  6. 4 medium shallots, smashed and peeled
  7. 3 large garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  8. One 3-inch piece of fresh ginger or galangal, thinly sliced
  9. 2 lemongrass stalks, tender inner white bulb only, cut into 3-inch strips and smashed
  10. 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  11. 1 quart water
  12. 2 large kohlrabi or turnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  13. 2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
  14. 2 scallions, coarsely chopped
  15. 1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
  16. 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  17. In a skillet, toast the green peppercorns over moderately high heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a spice grinder and let cool completely; coarsely grind.
  18. Using poultry shears, remove the backbones and wingtips from the hens and reserve for another use. Remove the legs and separate them into drumsticks and thighs. Remove the whole breasts on the bone and split each breast down the center. (A butcher can do this for you.)
  19. Season the hen pieces with salt and black pepper. In a large pot, heat the oil until shimmering. Add half of the hen pieces and cook over high heat, turning once, until browned, about 4 minutes; transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining hen pieces.
  20. Add the chiles, shallots, garlic, ginger, lemongrass and turmeric to the pot and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 minute. Add the water and kohlrabi. Return the browned hen pieces to the pot and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until the breast meat is just cooked through, 15 minutes. Transfer the breast pieces to a plate and cover. Simmer the stew until the legs and thighs are just cooked through, 10 minutes longer.
  21. Return the breast pieces to the stew and reheat. Stir in the ground green peppercorns, fish sauce, scallions, lime zest and cilantro. Ladle the stew into bowls and serve.


About Author

Joseph C. Phillips

Joseph C. Phillips was born on January 17, 1962 in Denver, Colorado, USA as Joseph Connor Phillips. He is an actor, known for General Hospital (1994), The Cosby Show (1984) and Strictly Business (1991). He has been married to Nicole since 1994. They have three children.

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