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Chef Chris Cosentino's Grilled Cornish Game Hen Fra Diavolo with Fennel & Dandelion Salad

by Chris Cosentino, Executive Chef
Incanto, 1550 Church Street, San Francisco, CA 94131; 415.641.4500;

Serves 2

1 red jalapeño peppers,
1 Serrano peppers
6 cloves garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp dried chile flakes
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp pimenton de vera dulce [Spanish paprika with a smoky note, but ground dried chipotle peppers may be substituted]
2 fresh bay leaves finely chopped [if you can’t get fresh, use 2 dried]
1 bunches fresh thyme, leaves removed and finely chopped, twigs discarded
1 orange, zested and juiced
2 1-lb Cornish game hens
Kosher salt
2 heads fennel
1 small red onion
1 lb baby dandelion greens [arugula may be subst]
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, juiced

1. For the marinade: In a food processor, combine the jalapeños, serranos, garlic, and olive oil, and pulse until a paste forms. Transfer to a bowl and add chile flakes, black pepper, pimenton de vera dulce, bay leaves, orange zest, and orange juice. Mix well with a spoon. Set aside. Note: if no food processor is available, finely chop the peppers and garlic by hand and proceed with the recipe.

2. For the hens: Using a pair of kitchen shears, remove each game hen’s back by cutting along both sides of the backbone. Discard the bones or save for a stock. Lay the birds flat in a deep wide dish or two. Season with kosher salt then “massage” them with the marinade [you may want to wear rubber gloves for this; otherwise take caution in touching your eyes after handling hot peppers] and let sit for 2 hours in the refrigerator.

3. Preheat the grill or grill pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cooking the Cornish game hens over high heat will ensure carmelization, which adds flavor, and makes proper grill marks on the meat. Place the bird on the grill breast side down and cook for 5 minutes then turn it a ¼ turn to the left and cook for 5 minutes more. This will give you those sexy diamond grill marks. Flip the birds over and repeat the same steps, then place on a baking sheet in bake for 15 minutes. You can tell the birds are done when the thigh juices run clear. Set the Cornish game hens aside and let rest on the countertop for 10 minutes.

4. While the birds are resting, very thinly slice the fennel and red onion into a mixing bowl, add the dandelion greens, dress with a splash of lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper.

5. Put salad on 6 dinner plates, then top with 1 Cornish game hen per person. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and serve.

# # #

For more information on Incanto or Chris Cosentino, please contact chris Cosentino
at 415.641.4500 or
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