Rock Cornish hen in pomegranate sauce

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I always think pomegranate sauce looks so pretty. The deep red colour makes it perfect for a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner.

Rock Cornish Hens are split or spatchcocked so no one has to fight to cut the little birds or worry they will fly off the plate. Splitting them also makes the bird roast more evenly. The crisp birds are surrounded by a tangy pomegranate sauce with a hint of saffron and garnished with fresh pomegranate seeds and walnuts.

Rock Cornish hens are so large these days – about 1½ to 1¾ pounds – one may be enough for two people, depending on your appetites.

Spatchcock or split the hens

Wash and dry the hens. Place the game hen breast side down on a cutting board. Using scissors or poultry shears, cut from the neck to the tailbone to remove the backbone. Flatten the hen by pressing down and cracking the breast bone. Use the scissors to remove the white breast bone. Place in marinade for two hours or overnight.

 

Marinade

A quarter-cup of pomegranate molasses (Find this delicious thick syrup, a staple of Middle Eastern cooking, at Middle Eastern groceries, Whole Foods Markets, or specialty grocers.)

1 clove of crushed garlic

¼ tsp. red chili flakes

Preheat oven to 425F/220C.

Remove the bird from the marinade. Dry well and season.

Line a roasting pan with foil and place the well-dried and seasoned hen skin-side up on a rack.

Lightly butter or oil the skin and sprinkle it lightly with coarse kosher salt.

Roast 25 or 30 minutes; the legs should move freely and juices must be completely clear!

Glaze

Simmer together:

2 tbsp. each:

Red current jam, pomegranate molasses, and honey

With 1 clove of garlic and 5 pepper corns.

Sauce

Sauté:

2 tsp. butter

1 mince clove of garlic

½ small chopped onions

Add 2 tsp. of flour and cook for 1 minute.

Add and simmer

½ cup pomegranate molasses

½ cup chicken stock with a few threads of good saffron

Correct seasoning.

To serve, remove to a heated platter and cut in half.

Serve with sauce and garnish with fresh pomegranate seeds and walnut pieces.

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