How to make it

  • Heat the oven to 325 degrees.
  • Soaking the bread for the stuffing:
  • Remove any tough portions of crust from the bread and tear the rest into ½ inch pieces. You should have about a half cup. Place the bread bits in a medium bowl and pour over the milk. Stir to moisten the bread and let soak while you cook the shallots.
  • The aromatics for the stuffing:
  • Heat the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the minced shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the sage and remove from heat.
  • Assembling the stuffing:
  • Squeeze the bread to extract the excess milk, then discard the milk, wipe out the bowl, and return the bread to it. Stir in the cooked shallots, chopped parsley, egg yolk, ground meats, ½ tsp. salt, a few grinds of black pepper, allspice and nutmeg. Work the stuffing gently with a wooden spoon and then with your hands to mix everything together without pulverizing it. It will be quite moist and hold together loosely.
  • Stuffing and trussing the hens:
  • Rinse the hens under cool water and drain. Pat dry with paper towels, inside and out. Season the hens with salt and pepper inside and out. Stuff one quarter of the stuffing into each hen. Tie the legs together with string and put one loop around the whole bird to hold the wings against it.
  • Browning the hens:
  • Pat the hens dry so that they don’t stick to the pan. Heat the oil and ½ tbsp. butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the hens, breast side down, and brown them, tilting the breasts first to one side and then to the other to brown both sides, then finish by turning them over to brown the back, about 10 minutes total. Large kitchen tongs or two wooden spoons work well for this. Transfer the birds to a 3 inch deep roasting pan or baking dish large enough to hold them in a single layer (I used a Dutch Oven). Pour of the fat from the skillet, but leave the yummy carmelized drippings and burnt bits.
  • The aromatics and braising liquid:
  • Melt the remaining 2 tbsp. butter in the skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté, stirring often, just until tender, about 5 minutes. Pour in the wine, stir to scrape up the precious browned bits from the bottom, and let come to a boil. Add the stock and return to a boil. Pour the braising liquid over the birds and cover tightly with foil or a tight fitting lid.
  • The braise:
  • Slide the hens into the lower part of the oven. Braise for 30 minutes. Check to see that the liquid is simmering gently. If it is simmering aggressively, reduce the oven heat by 10 to 15 degrees. Continue braising until a thermometer inserted deep into the stuffing reads 160 degrees, about 40 more minutes.
  • Finishing the sauce:
  • Transfer the hens to a cutting board with a moat to catch the juices. Cover loosely with foil. Boil the braising liquid about 6 to 10 minutes until it is the consistency of a vinaigrette. Add any juices that have seeped from the hens. Then add the cream and simmer rapidly for another 2-3 minutes. Season with a squeeze of lemon, the chopped parsley, salt and pepper.
  • Serving:
  • If you are serving one hen per person, set one on each plate and spoon some sauce over the top. For demi-portions, cut the hens in half from head to tail with kitchen scissors, while holding them together with tongs so the stuffing doesn’t fall out. Insert a spatula gently between the two halves and place them stuffing side down, on a warm dinner plate and spoon over some of the sauce. Pass the remaining sauce at the table.

Reviews & Comments 3

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  • misslionheart 12 years ago
    Was this review helpful? Yes Flag
    " It was excellent "
    darbar ate it and said...
    Dariana, I think it's the best recipe I've made in months! That's how much I loved it! I hope you try it, you'll love it.
    Was this review helpful? Yes Flag
  • dariana 12 years ago
    Sounds divine!
    Was this review helpful? Yes Flag

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