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  • Writer's pictureTommy Centola

Exploring something different than chicken

Chicken is an ingredient that I could eat every day. It’s versatility allows it to be used many different ways. Every now and then, I like to use other types of birds while cooking. Two of my favorites are Cornish Hen and Quail. So todays recipes feature these two different types of fowl.

A Cornish Hen is not a game bird. It is actually a hybrid chicken that is sold whole. It is a broiler chicken that can actually be either male or female. What I like most about the Cornish Hen is it’s size. One Cornish Hen is the perfect size for a single serving. Not many things look better on a plate than a whole Cornish Hen. I remember the first time my mother cooked them for us. I had a whole little chicken on my plate. I did not have to worry about what part I would eat because the entire bird was served to me.

I think the Cornish Hen is the perfect bird to stuff. Due to it’s size, the stuffing inside is the perfect serving of a side dish. Of course you can use any stuffing inside your hen. Boudin makes for a delicious stuffing that you don’t have to make, just take the casing off and stuff the bird. The version below is not difficult to make and very tasty.

Stuffed Cornish Game Hen

6-8 Cornish Hens

3 tablespoons Flour

1/3 cup Onions, diced

1/3 cup Celery, diced

1/3 cup Bell Peppers, diced

2 cups cooked Wild Rice

1 teaspoon Creole Seasoning

1 cup Andouille Sausage, finely chopped

Melted Butter

Preheat oven to 350℉.

In a large sauté pan over medium heat, sauté diced vegetables in butter and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add andouille and cook for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add the wild rice, mixing well. Stuff the hens and place on a baking sheet. Brush generously with melted butter. Bake for approximately 1 hour, switching to broil for the last 5 minutes to crisp up the skin. Before serving, sprinkle the Creole seasoning over the hens.

When I first arrived in Arkansas, I occasionally found quail being fried on menus. I have since adapted quail to a few of my New Orleans style dishes. The quail meat makes a wonderful jambalaya. However, my favorite way to cook quail is in an Étouffée. As you have heard from me before, there are many ways to make an étouffée. It is one of the most versatile dishes in terms of ingredients. I have yet to find a protein that does not taste good in étouffée.

Quail Étouffée

2 tablespoons Creole Seasoning

8 Quail, cleaned

Salt and Pepper to taste

1/3 cup Olive Oil

1/3 cup All-purpose Flour

2 cups Onions, chopped

1 cup Bell Pepper, chopped

1/2 cup Celery, chopped

1/2 cup Dry White Wine or Cooking White Wine

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon Garlic, minced

2 cups Chicken Stock

Hot Rice for serving

Season the quail with salt and pepper. In a large heavy skillet, heat the oil over medium heat and brown the quail. Remove the quail and set aside. Add the flour and stir the mixture until a dark brown roux is formed. Add the onions, bell pepper and celery and cook until tender. Add the wine, Worcestershire sauce, garlic and Creole seasoning and continue to cook for another minute. Add the chicken stock and continue to cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. Add the quail to the pan, reduce the heat to a smiler and cook for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve over hot rice.

To paraphrase a proverb, “A chicken a day keeps the doctor away”. Fortunately, there are many different birds that can fill this prescription.

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