Pancetta-wrapped Game Hens with Aromatic Stuffing & Chanterelles
While this dish is delicious with Game hens or Poussin, you can substitute squab, grouse, or pheasant for something a little more exotic. Wild birds tend to have tough legs so braise them in stock until tender rather than roasting them. Chanterelles are a delight in season; other mushrooms should not be substituted. In lieu of chanterelles, serve the bird with roasted potatoes or wild rice pilaf. If you don't have time to make a stock, you can substitute a high-quality store bought chicken stock.
Serves 4Print this recipe
2 Game Hens or Poussin
1 medium shallot, peeled and thinly sliced plus 1/2 cup minced shallots
1 4-inch by 1 inch long strip orange peel cut into 4 pieces
Freshly ground black pepper
Fine sea salt
Extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon freshly chopped thymes leaves
12 thin slices pancetta, unrolled into strips
2 medium carrots, peeled and trimmed
1 medium celery rib, trimmed and washed
1 small yellow onion, peeled, trimmed and quartered
1 small tomato, quartered
1 cup dry red wine, Pinot Noir preferred
1 dried bay leaf
3 bushy sprigs of fresh thyme
3 stalks of flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced shallots
1 medium garlic clove, minced
3/4 pounds chanterelles, cleaned, trimmed, and washed if particularly dirty
1. Cut the wings from the bird. Remove the breasts from the bird with a sharp knife. Place the breast skin side down on a wooden board then pound lightly with the flat side of a chef's knife to flatten. Remove the legs and thighs in one piece. Remove the thigh bone.
2. Place the breasts and legs in a glass or stainless steel container. Add the sliced shallot, orange peel, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Toss to coat the breasts well. Marinate overnight in the refrigerator.
3. Preheat to 400 degrees F. Place the carcasses in a roasting pan and add the carrots, celery, onion and tomato. Roast in the oven about 45 minutes until the bones are well browned.
4. Set a medium stock pot on the stove and add the bones and roasted vegetables. Place the roasting pan on the stove top and heat over medium heat. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pan using a wooden spoon or similar utensil. Boil for 2 to 3 minutes and then pour over the bones in the stock pot. Use a rubber spatula to scrape every last bit from the pan into the pot.
5. Cover the vegetables with 1 inch of cold water. Add the bay leaf, thyme sprigs and parsley and bring everything to a boil. Reduce the pot to a simmer and cook for 4 to 6 hours until the carcasses fall apart. If the stock falls below the level of the bones, add more water to just cover as needed. Drain the stock through a fine strainer into another pot. Discard the bones.
6. Reduce the strained stock to about 2 cups. Cool in the refrigerator.
7. To make the aromatic stuffing, heat a medium sauté pan over medium high heat.
Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and then the shallots. Cook stirring frequently until shallots are golden, about 10 minutes. Add the thyme leaves and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cool thoroughly.
8. Remove the breasts from the marinade, brush off the shallot and orange peel. Lay the breasts flat on a board, skin side down, season lightly with salt and pepper. Divide the shallots evenly between the birds. Make a line down the center of the breast. Starting from one side, roll the breast lengthwise as tightly as possible.
9. Wrap each breast with 3 slices of pancetta. Start at one end and wrap the pancetta around the breast, over wrapping the strip by half. Tuck the end of the pancetta under itself at the end of the breast. Chill until the pancetta is firm.
10. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the butter and when it starts to brown, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the mushrooms and cook until they exude their juices. Season with salt and pepper and continue to cook until the pan juices are almost dry. Add the shallots and garlic and continue to cook until all of the liquid in the pan has evaporated. Add 1 cup of stock and place in the oven. Roast for 20 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the oven and reserve while you sear the breasts and legs. If the pan is dry, add 1/4 cup water before you continue to roast with the birds.
11. Remove the breast and legs from the refrigerator. Brush the marinade off the legs and season with salt and pepper. Heat a medium sauté pan over medium high heat. When the pan is hot, add the breasts and legs and brown slowly on all sides, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat if the fat smokes or the pancetta gets too dark. Remove the breasts to a plate and reserve the pan.
12. Add the chanterelles to the sauté pan and heat until very hot. Add the breasts on top and place in the oven. Roast for 12 minutes, remove the breasts from the pan and let them rest for 15 minutes. Continue to roast the legs for another 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven. Slice each breast into 3 rounds and serve with the legs on top of the chanterelles.
13. Reduce the remaining stock by half and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve alongside the birds.
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