Archive for December, 2012

Cornish Game Hens, Roasted Potatoes, Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus – A New Year’s Feast!

What a New Year’s feast I just enjoyed!

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Today a planned on making a holiday favorite of my husband’s that I never made before – stuffed pork tenderloin.  I decided to go with this recipe from Cooking Light for Roast Pork Loin Stuffed With Port Sauce.  On the side, I would serve the same amazing roasted potatoes I made for Christmas and bacon-wrapped asparagus bunches.

Because I have been away for a week, our fridge was devoid of most foods I like to keep on hand – leafy veggies, fresh fruit, and delicious herbs.  After making an extensive grocery list, I headed out to my two grocery stores – the natural foods store, and the regular grocery store.  I stocked up on all the ingredients, and one of the last things I needed was the pork tenderloin.  Lo and behold, I found the shelf empty!  I asked the butcher if they had any more, and the store was out of stock.

At first I panicked.  Tears began to come to my eyes – I had spent 2 hours grocery shopping all for nothing and, even worse, I didn’t have a Plan B for tonight’s dinner.  I did not want to battle more New Year’s Eve traffic on the roads and – even worse – at another grocery store, so going to a  third store was out of the question.  Fortunately, after taking some deep breaths and desperately searching for alternatives in the meat section, I found individually packed cornish game hens.  Since I had already sought out the ingredients, I decided to use the pork tenderloin recipe, and to use the recipe’s stuffing and sauce for these cornish game hens instead.  I was slightly worried about the pairing of a red wine sauce with white meat, but I decided to ignore tradition and go with my gut instinct instead.

After getting home, I immediately placed the birds in cool water to defrost.  About 3 hours later, I opened the packaging to behold what I would call an utterly cute sight.  It had been a while since I had made cornish game hens, and it was my first time cooking with birds that were this little.  I thought of them as cute mini-chickens.  For a moment, I felt the slightest bit of remorse for consuming them.  Then I felt my stomach grumble, and I got to work.

I prepared the stuffing as indicated in the Cooking Light recipe (link above).  Once that was ready, I cut the skin on each bird from above each thigh to the neck.  I rubbed butter all over the birds, including under the skin where I had cut, and then seasoned the skin with salt, pepper, and rosemary.  I placed the stuffing inside each bird, trussed each bird (once again, by instinct – I was pretty proud of how dainty the birds looked with their wings and thighs stayed in place), and placed it in the roasting pan. I filled the roasting pan with a bit over 2 cups of chicken broth, which I used to baste the birds every 15 minutes.

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For the roasted potatoes and roasted asparagus, I have perfected my own recipes, which I am proud to share.  The potatoes turn out moist yet not too greasy and full of flavor from the herbs.  It was my first time roasting asparagus in the oven, and it turned out oh-so-tender.  In addition, because it is bacon-wrapped, it becomes infused with the smoky scent of the bacon, which makes it all the more so amazing!

Roasted Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 pounds red potatoes, quartered
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, and/or dill)
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mix the herbs, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.

Add the red potatoes, and mix well to combine.

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray (I like to place aluminum foil on the baking sheet, and spray that instead).  Arrange the potatoes in a single layer on the baking sheet.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until slightly browned.

Serve by themselves or with ketchup.

Roasted Asparagus Bundles

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 strips good-quality, full-fat bacon (I like Applegate Naturals’  nitrite/nitrate-free bacon)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Stir together the olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.  Coat the asparagus spears with this mixture.

Divide the asparagus spears into thirds.  Wrap each bundle with a piece of bacon.  Lay each bundle on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.

Bake for about 20 minutes, until the bacon is cooked and the asparagus spears are soft.

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Even though I was still pretty bummed about not getting any pork tenderloin, it turned out to be a delicious New Year’s meal!  I’m glad I was flexible and opted for the cornish game hens because, knowing myself, I could have just given up and tried to plan a different meal from scratch on the spot (which probably would not have turned out that well, since I don’t think rationally when I’m uupset!).

And the best news for next year?  I have a lot of leftover stuffing, so when I do get my hands on a pork tenderloin, I will be more than ready to roast that baby!

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