Roasted Cornish Hens With Pears, Feta, Figs, & Herbs
FOR CORNISH HENS:
· 1 tbs canola oil
· 1 shallot, finely chopped
· ¾ c dried figs, finely chopped
· Top half of 1 firm ripe pear, cut widthwise, peeled and finely diced
· 7 oz french or greek feta, crumbled
· 4 tbs butter at room temperature
· 1 tbs balsamic vinegar
· 1 tsp thyme leaves, finely chopped
· 1 tsp rosemary leaves, finely chopped 2 tbs parsley, finely chopped
· salt and pepper to taste
· 2 1½ lb cornish hens, butterflied
FOR ROASTING PAN:
· 2 tbs canola oil
· 1½ firm ripe pear sliced into rounds
· 2 heads garlic cut in half, top parts discarded ⅓ cup dried figs
· 6 small shallots
· small bunch rosemary
· small bunch thyme
Preheat the oven to 475°F.
In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium low heat. Add shallot and sauté until translucent. Add figs, pear, thyme, and rosemary. Continue sautéing 7-8 minutes. Add balsamic vinegar and cook down until liquid has started to evaporate. Transfer to a bowl and fold in crumbled feta, butter, parsley, salt and pepper. Keep in a bowl at room temperature until ready to stuff hens.
To prepare hens, tuck wings under breast, and carefully work your fingers under skin to create space for stuffing. Divide the stuffing mixture in half and gently place using a teaspoon under the skin of legs and breast of each hen. Lightly press to evenly distribute and maintain shape. Chill hens on a sheet pan until stuffing is set, about 1 hour.
Meanwhile, in a large cast iron pan, heat 1 tbs of canola oil over high heat. Add sliced pears, garlic, figs, and shallots, and cook until golden, turning pears once, after 2 minutes to brown both sides. Once golden, place on the outer edge of a large roasting pan or oven-safe skillet.
Add remaining tablespoon of canola oil to cast iron pan. Salt and pepper hens, and sear for 2 minutes, skin-side down. Transfer to the pan or skillet where you’ve placed the pears, garlic, figs and shallots. Roast for 25 minutes. Add rosemary and thyme sprigs and continue roasting for another 10 minutes, until skin is golden. Transfer hens to a cutting board and let rest 10 minutes prior to cutting in half. Serve with roasted pears, garlic, figs and shallots.
Photography by Linda Pugliese, Food and Styling by Carlo Geraci