This dinner was inspired by the last meal my husband and I ate in New Orleans, a lunch (complete with 25 cent martinis!) at Commander's Palace. I enjoyed a whole roasted quail in a chicory glaze and stuffed with boudin sausage, over a bed of cabbage (here I spice mine up with a veggie medley inspired by the muffaletta condiment, giardiniera). We always bring a food souvenir home from vacation, so I made this with my Cafe Du Monde coffee. As fancy as this dish appears, it is on the table in under 45 minutes as the smaller game hens are quick cooking, especially after spatchcocking. Enjoy! —Emily | Cinnamon&Citrus
cauliflower, in small florets
large carrot, peeled then shaved into long ribbons with the peeler
white wine vinegar
crushed red pepper flake
juice of 1/2 lemon (zest it before juicing, as you will use the zest for the hen)
Place the cauliflower florets and carrot ribbons in a large mixing bowl. In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar through the teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Boil, stirring, just until the salt dissolves. Pour over the cauliflower and carrot and stir to coat. Let marinate for 1 hour at room temperature or 2 hours in the fridge. Can be made a day in advance.
Melt butter with the lemon juice in a sautee pan over medium high heat. Add the cabbage and toss to coat in the butter. Sprinkle with salt and white pepper and sautee, turning frequently with tongs, for about 5 minutes.
Remove the marinated vegetables from the oil and vinegar with a slotted spoon and add to the warm cabbage, turning with tongs to combine.
Chicory Coffee Glazed Game Hen
Preheat the oven to 450F. Prepare a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet.
Using kitchen shears, remove the backbone from the game hen by cutting down either side of it. One the spine is removed, flatten the hen on a cutting board breast side up and press with the butt of your hand, then, with a sharp chef's knife, cut between the 2 breasts to create 2 equal halves. Alternatively, your butcher can do this for you. Pat the skin of the hen dry with paper towel.
Combine 2 tablespoons of butter with 1 teaspoon of brown sugar, plus the fresh thyme and lemon zest and a pinch of salt. Gently separate the skin from the meat on the thigh and breast of each game hen half. Salt and pepper the skin and beneath the skin of the game hen, and spread the compound butter underneath the skin.
In a small saucepan, combine the coffee, vinegar, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, and 1 tsp salt. Bring to a boil over high heat to dissolve the sugar and salt and set aside.
Heat a dry cast iron skillet over medium-high. When hot, add a drizzle of olive oil and add the hen halves, skin side down. Cook for 4 minutes, then turn skin side up and sear for an additional minute. Remove from heat and transfer the hen halves to the prepared baking sheet. Reserve the pan juices (the mixture will be dark and that is OK.) Roast the hen halves in the oven about 20 minutes, until the juices run clear.
While the hen cooks, complete the glaze. Combine the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter with the flour to make a beurre manié. Add the reserved coffee mixture to the cast iron skillet with the pan drippings from searing the hen, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally. Cook until reduced by half, about 7 minutes. Add the beurre manié, whisking constantly, and cook an additional 2 minutes, or until the glaze coats the back of a spoon. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust seasoning as needed.
Remove the hen halves from the oven and allow to rest, tented with foil to hold in the heat, 5-10 minutes. Plate each half over a mound of warm cabbage and spoon over a generous amount of coffee glaze (serve the remaining glaze on the side for dipping.)