Cornish hen breasts are seasoned with salt and pepper and pan-fried until golden on both sides, cooked through in the oven then served on a bed of Italian risotto and pearl barley and dressed with chocolate cognac sauce in this unique gourmet recipe. Arborio rice, which is one of the most common types of risotto rice, is used in this recipe but you can also use other kinds of Italian rice such as Baldo, Roma, Maratelli, Carnaroli, and Vialone Nano.
Cornish hens are smaller than regular chickens, weighing about one to two pounds. Also called Rock Cornish, poussin, and Rock Cornish hen, Cornish hen is a hybrid type of chicken, a cross between Cornish Game and White Rock or Plymouth chicken breeds. Because the meat to bone ratio of the hen is small, one hen usually serves one to two persons. The bones are not too strong so they can be easily split before or after cooking. One of the best and easiest methods for cooking Cornish hen is roasting it in the pan. Since the bird is relatively small, it takes a shorter amount of time to cook it whole. To seal in the juices before cooking it in the oven, sear the bird on all sides in a hot pan. Even with a little seasoning, the flavor of the meat will be locked in resulting in a mouthwatering dish.
There is little need for seasoning the Cornish hen because it is served with vegetable risotto and pearl barley as well as a rich and luscious chocolate Cognac sauce. The risotto and pearl barley are flavored with shallots, garlic, white wine, chicken stock, celery root, celery stalk, and butternut squash. The chocolate cognac sauce is made with demi glace, red wine, Cognac, soya sauce, chocolate, fresh tarragon, butter, and shallots.
To make the risotto, sweat shallots and garlic in a sauce pot with a liberal amount of butter. Add the raw arborio rice and stir until rice is completely coated in melted butter. Add white wine and cook until absorbed. Add the raw toasted pearl barley. Stir until coated. Add the chicken stock one ladle at a time until it is all gone. The rice should be three quarters cooked.
Remove from heat and cool by spreading out on a baking tray to quicken the cooling process. To finish, place cool risotto in a pan and add one or two ladles of chicken stock. Bring to a boil and add the blanched vegetables. Once the stock is absorbed and the risotto is hot all the way through, season to taste and place in the middle of the plate.
To make the chocolate cognac sauce, saute shallots in the butter. Add chopped tarragon. Add the red wine and flame, reduce by half. Add the Cognac and flame, reduce by half. Add the demi glace and reduce by one third. Finish with the soya sauce and add chocolate. Once chocolate is melted and incorporated in to the sauce, pour on plate.
To prepare the Cornish hen, season both sides of the two Cornish hen breasts with salt and pepper. Sear in a frying pan until golden brown on both sides and finish in the oven for five to six minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove and let rest for two minutes.
To plate, place the risotto in the middle of the plate. Slice the Cornish hen breasts and arrange on top of the risotto. Drizzle sauce over top and around plate for decoration.