Cornish Hen Salad with Scotch Bonnet Vinaigrette

Scotch bonnet chiles are some of the hottest--and fruitiest--in the world. The oil in a vinaigrette brings out the chiles' fruity side while cooling the fire.

Yield: 4
Recipe from Food & Wine

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Ingredients

  • 2 Cornish hens (about 1 1/2 pounds each)
  • 4 medium carrots
  • 2 tablespoons pure olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Scotch bonnet sauce (see Note)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 8 medium red radishes, halved and sliced 1/8 inch thick
  • One 2 1/2-ounce package radish sprouts
  • 1/2 cup roasted, salted cashews, halved lengthwise

Preparation

  1. 1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Put the hens and carrots in a roasting pan, rub them with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the upper third of the oven for 1 hour, then transfer the carrots to a plate to cool. Continue roasting the hens for about 15 minutes longer, or until the cavity juices run clear. Transfer the hens to a platter and let cool to room temperature.
  2. 2. Meanwhile, pour the hot pan juices into a measuring cup and skim the fat. Strain the juices into a small saucepan and simmer over moderate heat until reduced to 2 tablespoons, about 4 minutes. Pour the reduction back into the measuring cup and let cool to room temperature. Stir in the hot sauce, vegetable oil, vinegar and allspice and season this vinaigrette with salt and pepper.
  3. 3. Remove the meat from the hens and pull it apart into thick shreds. Cut the carrots into 2-by-1/3-inch sticks. In a large bowl, toss the cornish hen meat with the carrots, radishes, sprouts, cashews and the vinaigrette. Mound the salad on plates and serve.
  4. Make Ahead: The recipe can be prepared up to 1 day ahead through Step 2. Refrigerate the hens and vinaigrette separately.
  5. Wine Recommendation: The forward fruit of a dry to off-dry, low-alcohol Riesling will stand up to the spicy vinaigrette. Try either a soft Washington State or California bottling, such as the 2000 Chateau Ste. Michelle Cold Creek Vineyard or the Nonvintage Bonny Doon American Pacific Rim.
  6. Notes: Use a thick Scotch bonnet sauce for more character. Some excellent brands are Ricky's Red Hot, Coyote Cocina Howlin' Hot Sauce and Matouk's Hot Calypso Sauce.
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