Previously, on tastingmenu.wordpress.com –
So I thought I’d do a version of this dish using poussin/cornish game hens as a ‘comfort food’ Labor Day dinner. I guess what made this such a nice idea was that everything could be put onto individual serving plates. As I would discover, the dish was described in Chef Keller’s book, Ad Hoc, p. 22; the online recipe can be found here: http://books.google.com/books?id=yMZn936MHLcC&lpg=PP1&pg=PA22#v=onepage&q&f=false
So for the vegetables, Chef Keller indicated in the video he had carrots, onion, parsnips, turnips, leeks and celery. When I saw the carrots, onion, celery, I immediately thought “roasted mirepoix”. And then I thought “swap celeriac for the celery”. At this point I was thinking, 2 parts onion, 1 part carrots, 1 part celeriac and 1 part each of everything else in a ‘chunky dice”. Boy, was I ever happy I had my Revol oven proof plates (see http://www.wayfair.com/Revol-Grands-Classique-8-Round-Eared-Dish-615466-RLV1293.html ).
While at market, I rounded up: 14 7/8 oz of onion, 6 1/2 oz of celeriac, 6 3/8 oz of parsnip, 6 3/8 oz carrot, 6 7/8 oz of turnip and
6 1/4 oz of leek (white part only, root trimmed). All the vegetables got cut up into a ‘chunky’ dice and then mixed
with a drizzle of grapeseed oil and a 2 pinches of 4:1 salt/pepper mix. The cut up vegetables ended up getting
distributed to THREE Revol oven proof plates (so I guess I’ll be having cold roasted vegetable salad with French
Laundry staff dressing sometime this week; but that’ll be a story for another time). The next time I make this dish,
I”ll need to reduce the amount of vegetables by a third.
During my Whole Foods, Newtonville market run to get the ingredients for this dish, I noticed there were now TWO different brands of cornish game hens/poussins. I normally get the Bell & Evans, but there was now an Epicurean Farms ‘Petite Poulet’ – apparently now available by another customer’s request. Never having tried that brand before, I took
a chance to see how it would turn out. When I got home, I got the hens out of their wrappers and took a quick sniff test and I must say I was surprised the ‘sniff test’ came up clean – virtually no smell at all. So I got the hens cleaned up, patted dry and then seasoned each with about 1 teaspoon of 4:1 salt/pepper mix (much like the youtube video cited above). I took a pass on trussing the hens this time around and sat them on their root vegetable beds then got them into a preheated 450 degree oven. In addition to the two servings of the dish, I also included the ‘spillover’ plate of root vegetables that I prepared for the meal. And so they cooked in the oven for about 50 minutes.
While we were enjoying the meal (with a good crusty baguette and butter!) my wife commented that she thought the flavor of the roasted hen was more ‘pure’ and that she preferred this brand to the Bell & Evans. That was sort of interesting, because, while I agreed with my wife’s comment, I actually preferred the Bell & Evans more because of the slightly ‘gamier’ character of their cornish game hens. Nonetheless, it was a nice relaxing dinner and I could certainly redo this dish again with the garlic and thyme.