The very simplicity if these vinegar-poached game hens requires that you source the best possible ingredients.
Save the poaching liquid as a soup stock. It’s particularly good in Chinese Hot and Sour soup.
- 2 Cornish game hens
- salt and pepper (as needed for seasoning)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 carrot (roughly chopped)
- 1 onion (roughly chopped)
- 2 celery stalks
- 1 fistful mixed herbs (plus more as garnish)
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2 cup apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup chicken stock
Leaving the skin intact trim the birds of any obvious fat. Season them generously on all sides with salt and pepper; inside and out. Tie the legs together with twine and tuck the wings under.
Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven just large enough to hold both birds. Add the carrot, onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally until softened; about 6 minutes. Season the mixture lightly and add the herbs, sugar and both vinegars. Bring the mixture to a boil then lower the heat and simmer about 5 minutes.
Place the birds in the pot breast side up. Add enough water to barely cover them. Place the lid on the pot and simmer until cooked through; about 25 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the birds rest in the cooking liquid while you make the sauce.
Meanwhile melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the flour and cook, whisking for 1 minute. Gradually stir in the chicken stock and simmer until smooth and thickened; about 3 minutes. In small additions add up to about a ½ cup of the poaching liquid from the Dutch oven. Add enough of the liquid to thin the sauce to your desired consistency; use your judgment. Increase the heat to a boil. The turn off the heat and season with salt and pepper.
Remove the chicken from the poaching liquid. Let them drain well on a rack and then move them to a warm serving platter. Spoon the sauce over the birds to glaze the skin. Garnish with more fresh herbs. Serve warm.