I did Cornish Game Hens last year for the Third Day of Christmas, but this was a different variety. Mainly in that each hen was wrapped in blanched bacon. I looked no further. Now, Alec complained that "something was wrong with the bacon," because it didn't taste as "bacon-y." And yes, blanching does make for a subtler flavor. But I liked it. It didn't overpower the hen and it's mushroom filling, but you still got the amazing (yet subdued) flavor of bacon. So no complaints from my end, but what do I know? Next time, there is a request to make two hens with "normal bacon." Critics.
On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... three French hens...
Mushroom-Stuffed Cornish Hens
from Food Network
8 strips bacon
1 tbs unsalted butter
2 tbs minced shallots (about 1 medium shallot)
1/2 tsp minced garlic
10 oz. button mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed, and finely chopped
1 tsp salt, divided
1/8 tsp ground white pepper
2 1/2 tsp dry white wine
4 Cornish game hens, about 1 1/4 lb each
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
To blanch the bacon, place the 8 strips of bacon into a medium saucepan mostly filled with water. Bring to a boil.
Lower heat and simmer for 7 minutes. Fill a large bowl with ice water. After the 7 minutes, remove bacon from hot water and submerge in the ice water for 3 minutes to stop the cooking.
Remove from the ice water and pat dry on paper towels. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 400F.
Melt the butter in a large pan over medium high heat. Add shallots and garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add mushrooms, 1/4 tsp salt, and white pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms release their juices and the juices are reabsorbed/evaporate. This can take about 12 minutes. Once the liquid is gone and the mushrooms begin to caramelize, add the wine and cook, stirring to deglaze the pan, until the liquid is gone. Remove from heat and let cool.
With your fingers, very carefully loosen the skin from over the breasts to make a pocket. Do not break the skin.
Fill the pocket with about 1 1/2 tbs on the mushroom duxelle and pull the skin back into place.
Season the hens inside and out with the remaining salt and the black pepper. Wrap each hen with two strips of bacon. I used a toothpick to hold the bacon together over the breasts.
Place the hens breast side up in a roasting pan and roast about 45 minutes, until the juices run clear and a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 180F. Remove from the oven and serve.