I love those little birds, but most of the time they are frozen icy little poultry spheres and somehow I'm always suspicious. Yesterday however, I found some fresh at Sonoma Market, so of course I had to buy one. They make a great entree. One bird halved, rubbed and either grilled or pan roasted makes a nice filling entree.
Preparing the rub:
I have a basic rub that I like to use when grilling quail and it works well with other poultry too. It's pretty easy. Mix together:
1/2 tsp of allspice
1/2 tsp of cayenne (I usually use Kashmiri chili)
1/4 tsp of salt
ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Spice Rubbed Game Hen
Preparing the birds:
Rinse them thoroughly in cold water and dry them.
Split the game hen in half through the breast and then remove the back bone.
While the birds were roasting I decided to make a sauce. I'd been thinking about walnuts a lot and ever since I participated in the POMwonderful dinner, I've been making my own pomegranate molasses. Walnut and pomegranate trees are pretty common around here in Sonoma, and this is walnut season and the tail-end of pomegranate season, so it seemed like the perfect time to take advantage of these wonderful seasonal treats.
I knew I had to use them in some kind of sauce. When I grill quail, I usually serve them with a molasses spice reduction. I thought hmmmmm, why can't I try this with my pomegranate molasses and while I'm at it, why can't I work walnuts into this thing in some way? So I did.
Preparing the sauce:
In a small cast iron skillet I toasted about 1 cup of walnuts.
3 Tbs of pomegranate molasses.
1 tsp of Tropical Traditions Organic Raw Honey
Salt to taste and add a turn of ground black pepper. Continue to let the sauce thicken and reduce.
Always taste for flavor as you go.
I added a handful of fresh pomegranate arils.
I also added a dab of butter (a very tiny piece) to help with the glaze and smooth the sauce, and when the game hens were ready I put 1 tsp of pan drippings into the sauce. I drizzled the sauce over the game hen halves and then scattered a few more arils.
It was served with shredded red cabbage (those little bags again) cooked in a bit of apple juice and apple cider, and some lightly steamed baby potatoes. For something that just occurred to me as I was staring at that little bird and wondering what I could do with it, it was a really great lunch, and it's a good reason to keep walnuts and pomegranates around the house when they're so abundant, as they are here.
Meanwhile, I'm working on a special dessert. I've made two versions of it so far and I'm not quite pleased with it yet so I've been eating my mistakes. I'm hoping to have it perfected soon. So is my butt.