Game Hens with Pomegranates: Beccazini "Ngranti"
- Seeds from 1 large pomegranate
- 1 cup Marsala
- 1 tablespoon chopped mint
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 6 Cornish game hens
- 6 thin slices pancetta
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 12 fresh sage leaves
- Peel of two oranges, cut into 1/4 -inch slices
In a small bowl, just cover the pomegranate seeds with the Marsala. You may have to use more Marsala. Gently mix in the mint and set aside, covered, for 1 hour.
Season the birds inside and out with salt and pepper. Drain the pomegranate seeds and mint, reserving the liquid. Stuff the birds with some of the seeds, reserving remainder for later use, and the mint. Using a needle, truss the bird tightly so that the inner cavity is closed and sealed shut buy the 2 legs. Wrap each bird in a slice of pancetta, using your palms to press the pancetta tight against the bird.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In an oven-proof saute pan, heat the olive oil, butter. Add 3 sage leaves and cook 1 minute before adding the hens. Brown the birds on all sides over high heat until well-browned, about 5 minutes. Lower the heat, and add the remaining sage leaves, and pomegranate seeds. Place the saucepan in the oven for 7 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven. Drizzle the hens with 3 tablespoons of the remaining Marsala and pat with 4 tablespoons of the remaining butter. Baste the hens with the pan juices and return to the oven for 5 more minutes. In a small saucepan, melt the remaining butter over low heat. Add the orange peel and saute gently for 5 minutes, stirring gently so that the peel absorbs the butter. Remove the sauteed peels from the heat. Remove the hens from the oven and transfer them to a serving dish. Sprinkle the hens with the orange peel, and drizzle them with pan juices and pomegranate seeds. Serve immediately.
Recipe courtesy of Mario Batali