Jun 12, 2010

On a bit of a more traditional note

(I swear I'll be back to stir fry very shortly.  But I was just going through records and this stood out.  And besides, it's one of those lovely Colorado spring days that feels like fall already.)

So it's Boston.  It's Christmas.  It's cold.  And there are only the two of you, and frankly you're both studying like crazy most of the time.  What do a Norwegian/Dutch atheist and a vaguely Germanic agnostic do under such circumstances?

Well, make Christmas dinner, of course.  On the menu:
  • Game hens
  • Roasted root vegetables
  • Candied walnuts
  • Fruit salad
It just makes sense, right?


This is going to form the basis for the walnuts and the dressing for the salad.  And it takes awhile, so start it first.

In a small saucepan combine:
  • A cup or so of apple cider
  • One cinnamon stick
  • Ground nutmeg, but not too much
  • Ground clove, but again not too much as this might actually numb your mouth
  • Ground allspice
  • About 3/4 inch freshly grated ginger
Bring that all to a simmer and then turn it way down.  Reduce to at least half if not a bit further.  This could take a few hours but won't require constant attention by any stretch of the imagination.

Salad dressing

Combine the majority of the reduced syrup with olive oil (probably straining the syrup).  Let that cool.


Toss the rest of the syrup with a generous amount of walnuts.  It coats amazingly well, so just keep the nuts coming until you think you're just about to spread it too thin.  Serve this as an appetizer and/or with the main meal.

Root vegetables

I chopped up about eight medium potatoes and three leeks into roughly similar sizes and vastly different shapes.  I could see adding carrot or sweet potato (which I can't stand and would never use but each to their own).

Combine chunked up roots with generous olive oil, salt, and pepper in a roasting pan.  A larger roasting pan than you think you'll need.

Toss that in a 500 degree oven for about 45 minutes to an hour; you want to get that nice slightly shriveled thing going.


In the meantime, prep your hens.  Usual poultry stuff; take out the spine and the sweetmeats and all that.

In a food processor, grind up thyme, rosemary, and oregano.  Preferably fresh on all.  Add a touch of olive oil just to make it easier to work with.

Slather both hens, inside and out, with the mixture.

When the roots are ready, place the hens on top and use whatever is left of the herb mixture to cover some of the root veggies.  Cover the roasting pan and return to the oven (reducing the heat a bit; 350 should be fine.  Keep probing the hens until a breast hits 170 or so (and remember that since game hens are so small they won't coast for as long).  I'm guessing this took 45 minutes.


Hunk up three nectarines and an apple (fuji? granny smith?  something to offset the flavor and add crunch).  Toss that with spinach, add the dressing, toss again, and dinner is ready as soon as the meat is.  (Originally the walnuts were going in here too but they were so good on their own that we just started munching on them right away.)

This generously served two as a feast and could easily scale.  Game hens are one of those interesting items that fluctuate in price so dramatically I don't even know whether to be suspicious.  But it was a lovely and relatively low cost meal and really quite nicely eaten by candle light on the floor in the living room.

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