In the book, it’s suggested that the game hens be cut into six pieces each. I decided to make it a bit more rustic and just cut the hens in half by removing the backbone and cutting between the breasts. The split hens were then browned in olive oil for about eight minutes on each side before removing them from the pan. Over lower heat, onion, bell pepper, hot pickled Italian peppers, and garlic were added and cooked until tender and starting to brown. Then, tomatoes, and I used canned, and red wine were added and allowed to simmer until the liquid was reduced by half. The chicken was returned to the pan, the wine was reduced a bit more, and then chicken stock was added. It was left to simmer until the chicken was cooked through, about twelve to fifteen minutes for halved Cornish hens. Once cooked, the chicken was removed from the pan so the sauce could continue to simmer and reduce for another 30 minutes. Meanwhile, the polenta was stirred and lovely mascarpone was added. Since I had Kurt’s preference for a crispy, seared surface on chicken in mind, I popped the halved hens under the broiler to re-crisp the skins just before serving. Last, I finely chopped more pickled hot peppers and parsley for garnish.
As the sauce simmered and I tasted from time to time to check the seasoning, I knew this was going to be good. Once it had reduced, and all those flavors from peppers, tomatoes, and wine had worked their magic, I had one last taste and did a little kitchen-happy-dance. This was an ideal match for the mascarpone polenta, but it would also be delicious with farro risotto, pasta, or a nice hunk of bread. And, it's perfect for a chilly night if you're still having winter.
I am a member of the Amazon Affiliate Program.