Monday, December 24, 2012

Cornish Game Hens with Orange and Herb Glaze

Merry Christmas eve! It's been a busy December for me between meetings, final exams, and term papers but now I finally have a recipe to post. We had a simple Christmas eve dinner which we prepared all while cooking things for Christmas day. My mom and I prepared a ham for breakfast tomorrow, which will also contribute to one of our side dishes: green beans with new potatoes and ham, a popular side dish in Indiana (and maybe other places in the US, though I'm not sure about that). We also made brownies using Bob's Red Mill brownie mix. They're not paleo, but they are gluten-free, easy to prepare, and the best brownie mix I have ever tasted. I added dark chocolate chips and pecans. Finally, we are making Pistachio Pear Spinach Salad, which is so good...I plan to eat a huge serving! For dinner, we had sugar snap peas and some delicious roasted cornish hens. The skin was a little crispy and chewy from an orange glaze and made a pretty presentation. This recipe was inspired by an old magazine recipe clipping, and I adjusted the recipe to make something unique.

Cornish Game Hens with Orange and Herb Glaze
Printable Recipe

1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried dill weed
1/2  tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cornish game hens, split lengthwise
2 cloves minced garlic
4 scallions, sliced
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
1 medium orange, juiced
1 tsp honey

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2.Mix all the dried herbs and spices and sprinkle evenly over the hens.
3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Brown the hens on both sides, about 10 minutes. Place the hens in a roasting pan. Roast for 30-35 min, or until juices run clear.
4. Return the skillet with the pan juices to medium-low heat. Add the garlic and scallions and cook until tender and fragrant. Then, add the broth, juice, and honey and cook until reduced over medium-low heat, about 20 min.
5. In the last 10 min of roasting the hens, brush with the glaze. Allow the hens to rest 5 min before serving.
  • Servings per recipe:4
  • Per serving: 
  • Calories: 309
  • Fat: 21.1 g
  • Saturated fat: 5.6 g
  • Cholesterol: 163.1 mg
  • Sodium: 495.4 mg
  • Carbohydrate: 6.7 g
  • Fiber: 0.7 g
  • Sugars: 4.7 g
  • Protein: 24.6 g

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Grain-Free Chicken Cordon Bleu

I made this Chicken Cordon Bleu during my first try of once a week cooking. I wanted to make chicken that wouldn't be boring to eat for several meals, so I stuffed the chicken with flavorful cheese and ham, just like regular Cordon Bleu. One trick I have recently learned about stuffing meat is that it's much easier to  make a pocket on the side than it is to butterfly and pound the meat thin and then stuff it. The latter method involves tying the meat up with butcher's twine and then some of the filling can be lost. By making a pocket on the upper third of the side of the meat, you expose less opening to the filling, which decreases the chances of it escaping. I also took an extra precaution to prevent the cheese from oozing out by wrapping little batons of cheese up like burritos with the ham. You get a pretty layered effect, too. On the outside, Chicken Cordon Bleu usually has breadcrumbs. Instead of choosing a grain-free substitute to laboriously dredge on the outside, I simply seasoned the outside with a flavorful mix of Dijon mustard, olive oil, and tarragon. The speckling of green leaves with a hint of licorice flavor along with the subtle heat of the mustard really go well with the filling and I think they provide an elegant touch. Plus, ham and cheese with mustard was one of my favorite sandwiches growing up, so the coating was a throwback to that familiar flavor. This recipe would be great on a holiday buffet table because guests can serve themselves individual slices, plus it also looks impressive.

On a side note, I realize some of my photos in recent posts have been sort of grainy. It took me a while to figure out what was wrong, but a setting had been altered on my camera and I needed to fix it!

Grain-Free Chicken Cordon Bleu
Printable Recipe

4 large chicken breasts
4 oz Swiss cheese (I used Kerrygold Irish Swiss)
4 oz deli ham, cut thin but not shaved (4 large slices cut in half or 8 small slices; look for a lower sodium and/or nitrite-free ham)
4 tsp Dijon mustard
4 tsp olive oil
1 tsp dried tarragon
black pepper and salt, to taste
special equipment: small trussing skewers or tooth picks

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Cut the cheese into .5 oz batons. Wrap each baton with a piece of ham like a burrito. It's ok if the ham doesn't totally cover.
3. Using a small paring knife, make a small cut about half an inch wide and parallel to the cutting surface on the rounded side of the chicken breast. Try to make the cut closer to the top third of the side of the breast. Use the knife to make a pocket on the inside of the breast reaching all sides but not puncturing through the bottom or sides. Use your fingers to help you make the pocket.
4. For each chicken breast, stuff two cheese and ham pieces inside. If the ham becomes slightly unwrapped or tears it's ok. Press the pocket closed and use a skewer to secure by weaving it through a couple of times.
5. Blend the mustard, oil, and some pepper together. Brush the outsides of the meat with the mustard mixture. Sprinkle some salt, if desired, and the tarragon on top.
6. Bake the chicken for 40 min or until a meat thermometer registers at least 160 degrees F.
7. Remove the chicken and allow it to rest 5 min before cutting it into slices, revealing the stuffing, and serve.
  • Servings per recipe: 6
  • Per serving: 6
  • Calories: 313.3 
  • Fat: 12.7 g
  • Saturated fat: 4.9 g
  • Cholesterol: 122.3 mg
  • Sodium: 451.3 mg
  • Carbohydrate: 0.8 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Sugars: 0.7 g
  • Protein: 44.6 g
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