Pan-fried Marinated Cornish Game Hens with Ratatouille on Arugula Salad
Cornish hens are served in a new way when sliced and placed over a ratatouille mold. This dish draws its flavors from the French region of Provence where the vegetables used in the ratatouille can vary according to the cook.
- Cornish Hens - 2, halved, back bones, breast bones, and thigh bones removed
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil - 1 cup
- Sweet Basil - 1/3 cup, chopped
- Fresh Thyme - 2 tablespoons, minced
- Fresh Rosemary - 2 tablespoons, minced
- Salt to taste
- Peppercorns - 1 tablespoon
- Eggplant - 1 , peeled and diced
- Zucchini - 1 pound, small, diced
- Onion - 1 small, diced
- Tomatoes - *2 , peeled, seeded, and diced
- Green Bell Pepper - 1 medium, seeded, deribbed, and finely diced
- Clove Garlic - 1, minced
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil - 1/3 cup
- Fresh Rosemary - 1 tablespoon, minced
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Balsamic Vinegar - 2 tablespoons
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil - 1 tablespoon
- Arugula Leaves - 24 to 32
To prepare the marinade with Cornish hens: Place hens in a large bowl. Add olive oil, sweet basil, thyme, rosemary, salt and peppercorns. Cover with plastic wrap. Place bowl in refrigerator and let hens marinate overnight.
To prepare the ratatouille: In a large heavy skillet, heat olive oil over high heat until very hot. Add the eggplant, zucchini, onion, bell pepper and garlic to skillet. Season with fresh rosemary, salt, and pepper. Saute vegetables until al dente, approx. 5-7 minutes. Add tomatoes and continue to cook until tomatoes are transparent, approximately 3 minutes longer. Remove ratatouille from skillet and place in a medium bowl. Cool to lukewarm, then gently stir balsamic vinegar into ratatouille. Set aside.
To prepare the Cornish hens: In a large heavy skillet over high heat, cook 1/3 cup olive oil until very hot. Cooking one hen (two halves) at a time, place each one skin-side down in skillet. Cook until browned on both sides, approximately 6-8 minutes. Remove from skillet and place on a work surface. Cut breasts apart from each hen and return remaining pieces to skillet, continuing to cook over medium heat 7-8 minutes longer. Now remove from skillet to work surface again, this time cutting legs from thighs at the joint. Cook and cut second hen in same manner. Remove skins from each breast and thigh, returning skins to skillet. Cook over medium high heat approximately 5-6 minutes until skins are very brown and crispy. Remove from skillet. When skins have cooled slightly, chop and reserve for garnish.
To prepare balsamic dressing: In a small bowl, whisk balsamic vinegar with olive oil.
To serve: Drag arugula leaves through balsamic dressing, then place a few on each serving plate to make a bed. Place a 4-inch stainless steel ring in the center of arugula bed and gently fill with ratatouille, leaving a 1/4 inch headspace. Cut one thigh and one breast into slices, then place these slices on top of ratatouille in stainless steel ring. Remove ring and place leg across center of sliced pieces of thigh and breast as final presentation. Garnish with reserved fried skin pieces.
* To remove skins from tomatoes, immerse tomatoes in boiling water for 15-20 seconds. Remove tomatoes from water and let cool for a few minutes. Skins can now be easily removed using a small paring knife.