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‘Great holiday game hens’

December 15, 2009
By Wendy Monro

It is officially cold!

When the sunlight hits the snow, there is nothing more beautiful.

Today, the ice on the lake is sky blue with patches of snow strewn about. It's breathtaking.

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Wendy, her husband Claud, and son Jack made made a meal of game hens with a red wine and onion sauce served with a baked potato.

I anticipate the days when the trees transform into crystal.

Sometimes, when I drive through New Ulm, I feel like we live in a Swiss village.

The architecture, the monuments, and the snow make me think there will be ski lifts just around the bend.

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Game hen with a red wine & onion sauce & a baked potato

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Serves: 6

3 game hens

2 large onions, chopped thick

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 Tbsp thyme

2 Tbsp Dijon mustard, dilute with a splash of red wine

Dash of salt and pepper

6 slices of parma ham, prosciutto or bacon

1/2 C. olive oil, divided

6 potatoes

3 Tbsp kosher salt

1 bottle of dry red wine (cabernet), divided

1/2 C. chicken stock

Pour yourself a glass of the Cabernet. You have to use it for the dish anyway.

Wash and dry the game hens. Place them in a roasting dish breast side up. Place the chopped onions and garlic in the dish as well. Drizzle 1/4 C. of the olive oil over the hens. Spread on the Dijon mustard with a basting brush. Add the salt and pepper and sprinkle on the thyme. Layer the bacon on the hens. Place in a 350 degree oven for one hour. After one hour, check to see if they are done. You may need to keep them in for another twenty minutes.

Poke holes in the potatoes with a fork. Rub the remaining olive oil on the potatoes and smother them in the salt. Wrap them in aluminum foil and place in the oven with the hens. They should be finished in an hour.

Once everything comes out of the oven, remove the hens and place the roasting dish on the stove top. Take the onions out, cut off the root and chop them up a bit more. Pour 1/2 C. of the red wine into the pan and deglaze. Stir up the bottom of the dish to get all of the flavors up and into the sauce. Add the stock. Let this simmer for about ten minutes.

Pour the onion and wine sauce into the bottom of the plate, place half of the hen on top and add a baked potato filled with sour cream and butter. Enjoy.

The best part about all of this snow is the joy it brings to our children's hearts.

I like to look at the frozen lake while wearing my slippers, sipping coffee next to the fireplace.

I take pictures of those crystallized winter trees through my car window. I may even roll the window down for 15 seconds if I can get a better shot. Not children, children want to feel the snow.

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They want to live it.

They want to roll in the snow, make forts and snowmen.

Kids want to touch the snow in their glove-covered fingers. They want to stay in the cold until their cheeks become bright red, their nose starts to drip and their toes ache.

Sometimes I wonder, should I just bundle up and try it?

Is this as fun as they say it is?

Then, reality sets in, and I realize I don't really like to be cold or wet.

I don t like having a runny nose and bright red cheeks.

Instead, I revel in the joy I see in their faces as they trudge through the front door throwing off their boots and gloves all the while shouting about the amazing snowman they just created and whether we have cherry tomatoes for the eyes.

It brings so much pleasure to me to see delight in them.

This week, my son Jack ran up to me in the market carrying a game hen.

He thought it was a baby chicken and really wanted me to buy it.

I followed him back to where he found it and tossed three of those little guys into the basket.

Jack was thrilled. It took me a couple of days before I finally made them.

Every night Jack asked, When will we have those tiny chickens? Are you making them tonight?

The night I made them, I brought Jack into the kitchen to help. We cut the hens out of the package and washed them.

We danced them around on the counter a little bit. As I dried them off, I pretended they were wearing a shawl or a toga.

I have made game hens several times in the past.

However, until I made the hens with a child, I had no idea how much fun they can be. We draped them in herbs, olive oil and bacon.

Those whimsical hens looked adorable in the roasting dish nestled in with onions and garlic.

I loved that Jack was excited to eat something other than a cheese burger.

He helped me make a sauce by deglazing the roasting pan with red wine.

Once the hen was on his plate along with a baked potato, he dug right in.

First, he grabbed a hold of the tiny leg and ate it like a drumstick. We all laughed.

These hens are great to get your children excited about dinner.

They are affordable and one hen easily feeds two people.

Make some sauce and throw in a baked potato and you are finished.

It is a great holiday meal for kids and adults alike.

Imagine if you made a turkey for the grown up table and gave the kids game hens?

They would get a kick out of that.

The best thing is, when the children are filled with joy, you become even happier.

You can see a video of Claud, Jack and me making the game hen on my blog:



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