Posts Tagged apricot

Roast Hen with Paprika, Apricot, and Mustard

It’s been a long time since I’ve roasted a Cornish Hen. There area few reasons for this: other meat, even boneless breast-and-rib meat, tends to be a bit cheaper by weight, pan-searing and smoking are quicker than roasting, and boneless meat is a lot more convenient for cutting up bite-sized and adding to a pasta dish or stir fry.

Mostly though, I got bored. When I roast Cornish Hens (or any other bird except duck) I do the same three things over and over again. Roasted plain with mustard powder and salt. Roasted with Guinness (okay, I’ll never get sick of this, but I buy beer maybe 6-7 times a year, so it’s not gonna happen often). Roasted with lemon, garlic, and honey. There’s nothing wrong with any of this, but none of it really jumps out anymore and if there is anything I hate in the kitchen it’s feeling like I’m just making the same darn thing every week.

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Too much time in a mass-producing kitchen only makes this worse. You try to get excited about cooking Cajun spiced fish after baking 1066 of them.

But I like roast chicken. It was just time to do it a bit differently. Good thing I had a copy of A Bird in the Oven hanging around. It’s one of those cookbooks I’ve had for a couple of years but inexplicably only ever use to make side dishes. This time I went looked at the chicken itself, ooh-ing at a few recipes and bookmarking others for possible dinner party use. I finally picked a recipe: roast chicken with saffron, ginger, and golden raisins.

Then, as usual, I changed pretty much everything.

I regret nothing. This is amazing.

I regret nothing. This is amazing.

Ingredients (serves 2)

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1 Cornish Hen

2 T butter at room temperature

6 dried apricots

1 T whole mustard

1 t mustard powder

1/4 t white pepper

1/2 t smoked paprika

1 t kosher salt

3/4 cup white wine

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut the spine out of the hen and cut through the breastbone, cutting it in half. Dry the hen well (better yet, dry cure it for a day or two in the fridge). Chop the apricots into about 1/4″ dice.

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Combine the butter, diced apricots, and whole mustard in a small dish.

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Squish together with a spoon until well combined.

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Add the paprika and stir again.

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Using your fingers and/or the back of a spoon, spread the butter mixture underneath the skin of your hen. This will feel gross. Persevere. Place the hens cut-side-down in a cast iron skillet or other oven safe dish and sprinkle the skins with the salt, mustard powder, and white pepper.

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Roast 15 minutes at 400°F. Pop the skillet on the stove, reduce the heat to 350°F, and pour the wine over the chicken.

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Return to the oven to roast another 25-30 minutes at 350°F. If you like crispy skin (and who doesn’t?) crank it up to broil for about two minutes at the end.

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Let it rest just a couple of minutes to soak up a bit more of that wine before serving. Serve with spinach couscous and a plate of olives.

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The apricot-mustard combination is definitely going to come out to play in future recipes. These are two of my favorite things but I never would have thought that combining them would work so well.

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Matcha Shortbread and Matcha Apricot Cobbler

Green tea is probably almost as good as chocolate. Have you ever had a mug of matcha? It’s thick as melted ice cream without being the least bit gritty. It shocks you with bitterness, and sooths you with velvet soft texture. A good dark chocolate will do just the same. But I will admit, like very dark chocolate, it isn’t for everyone. It needs to be tempered, sweetened, given a symphony of flavors in which to play, for the uninitiated to fully appreciate it.

If you don’t drink thick koicha tea, if even the weaker usucha is too much for you, use less matcha than I did. Because I am a matcha fiend, just as much as I am a chocolate fiend. And just as the less insane among the chocoholics would probably never eat a flourless chocolate cake made with 99% cocoa bars and only a scattering of sugar to temper it, so too the less insane among tea-lovers would not love this shortbread. It is intense, as much so as a mug of koicha. I will not think less of you if you want to hear the symphony.

The shortbread recipe, minus the tea, is taken pretty much exactly from Baking by James Peterson. I love this book. Cobbler ever so loosely based on Smitten Kitchen’s breakfast apricot crisp. only hers is better for you, and honestly tastes better as a breakfast. But it doesn’t have tea in it, So I win. It was a contest, right?

Ingredients (makes an 8″ diameter 1″ tall round of shortbread cookies plus two single-serve cobblers)

For the shortbread:

1 3/4 cups flour

1/2 t salt

1 cup (1/2 pound or 16 T or 2 sticks) butter, cut into 16 slices

3/4 cup sugar

1 T matcha powder (this will give a subtle matcha flavor. I used 3 T for a great wave of matcha flavor.)

For the cobbler:

1 pound fresh apricots (about 8)

1/4 cup sugar

1-2 ounces white chocolate, chopped

1 1/2 cups matcha shortbread dough

Directions 

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Place the flour, salt, sugar, and matcha powder in the bowl of a food processor

Pulse briefly to mix.

Add the butter and pulse until a dough ball forms out of the sandy mass. Turn the dough out onto the counter.

Pinch off about 1 1/2 cups of the shortbread dough for use in the cobblers. I didn’t measure, because a cobbler can afford to be a little fast and loose. Press the remaining dough into a pie tin, or just roll it into a 1″ tall circle on a sheet of parchment paper

Score the cookies however you choose, to make them easy to break into proper shapes

I made big wedges with pretty stars. Aww.

Bake for 15 minutes or so, then cut along the score lines while still hot to keep the cookies from brumbling when you cut them.

What a pretty slice. But while that’s baking, don’t you have cobblers to make?

Slight boggy cobblers. They taste better than they look, I promise.

Press a layer of shortbread dough into the bottoms of two 1-cup ramekins or 4 muffin tins.

Tear the apricots in quarters, discarding the seeds.

Toss the apricots with sugar and chocolate. They will become sticky messes instantly upon touching the sugar. Don’t worry. It’s supposed to do that.

Plop the filling into the ramekins, interspersed with about 2 teaspoon pinches of shortbread dough.

Bake at 400°F for 30-35 minutes. The filling should be viscous and bubbly and the top edges of the shortbread bits will be just a tad browned.

The apricots, even with all that sugar, are sour and mean. the tea pushes them back, and the buttery shortbread brings a creamy sweetness to the whole thing. Plus, there’s fruit in it, so it’s a healthy breakfast, right?

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