Lemon and rosemary butter:
- 3/4 cup butter
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
- 1 tablespoon garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 4 Cornish hens, butterflied
- 2 tablespoons honey mustard
- 1 tablespoon apricot jam
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons butter
Combine butter, lemon rind, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper. Remove 2 tablespoons of butter mixture and reserve. Lay hens flat, skin-side up. With fingertips starting at the breast, loosen skin from meat. Spread butter mixture on meat under the skin. Season hens with salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C).
Heat remaining 2 tablespoons of seasoned butter in skillet on medium-high heat. When butter sizzles, place hens skin-side down in butter and fry for 5 minutes or until skin is golden. Do not crowd skillet. Repeat on second side. Reserve skillet for sauce.
Roast hens for 25 to 30 minutes or until juices run clear on a baking sheet.
Pour fat out of skillet and add mustard and apricot jam. On medium heat, stir together and cook until combined. Pour in stock and bring to boil. Simmer 2 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in butter.
Cut each hen in half and serve 2 halves per person. Glaze with sauce.
These birds are flexible, so don’t sweat the wine match too much. Were it not for the apricot glaze, I’d strongly suggest red or white Burgundy or an earthy Italian red such as a good Chianti. They all tend to be medium bodied, so they won’t steamroll over the delicate flesh. Should you plan to slather the sweet-tangy sauce like a house painter on Benzedrine, I’d opt instead for off-dry riesling (if you like white) or New World pinot noir. - Beppi Crosariol