A Fall French Classic
Normandy is beautiful in the fall, when the ocean is slate gray and the food is phenomenal—game birds and oysters, mushrooms and apples. This recipe is from an ancient farmhouse cookbook and after years of tweaking, the northern French standard has become a fall favorite of ours.
Pan-Roasted Cornish Hens with Calvados and Apples
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 Cornish hens, quartered and backbones removed
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 5 shallots, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 cup apple cider
- 1 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth
- 1/2 cup Calvados
- 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 Granny Smith apples—peeled, cored and thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup dried currants
In a large deep skillet, melt the butter in the olive oil. Season the hen pieces with salt and pepper and add half of them to the skillet. Cook over moderately high heat, turning, until browned all over, about 8 minutes; transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining hen pieces.
Add the shallots to the skillet and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the cider, stock, Calvados and vinegar and simmer over moderately high heat, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Add the apples and heavy cream and bring to a simmer. Return the hens to the skillet and simmer over moderately low heat until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest piece registers 160°, about 10 minutes. Transfer the hens to a platter. Add the currants to the skillet and season the sauce with salt and pepper. Spoon the sauce over the hens and serve.