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This is an excellent game hen recipe from Las Camelia’s Cocina Mexicana restaurant (now closed) in San Rafael California. I only slightly modified it as the original recipe did not use the aromatics from the marinade and I couldn’t see why not.
Why throw all that flavor away?
So I didn’t.
I also increased the tequila to water ratio, I like tequila better … haha. But you could leave it as it was originally written, that would be 1/2 cup tequila to 1 1/2 cups of water.
This recipe does need to marinate, so plan accordingly
This recipe does need to marinate, and I have not included the marinating time of 8 – 24 hours in my prep time number. I find overnight to be best.
One of the more unusual parts to this recipe is using the marinade as a part of the sauce. You might be worried as it is poultry and we are taught that raw poultry juice is bad.
And it would be.
If left raw. But since the sauce is going to boil, vigorously, for about 30 minutes, there is no raw contaminates left.
So don’t worry about using that flavor in your sauce.
Las Camelias Cornish Game Hens are great for a dinner party as much of it can be done in advance. Keep the sauce hot in a thermos, and then all you need to do is finish off the hens prior to serving.
In a bowl large enough to hold the hens, combine the water, tequila, garlic, ginger, onion, salt and pepper.Wash the hens and put them in the marinade, making sure to get some inside the chest cavity. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 or up to 24 hours.
Remove the hens from the marinade; scraping off the onion mixture. Strain the marinade and reserve for the sauce. Reserve the onions and garlic mixture as well.
Preheat the oven to 400º F. Place the hens on a rack in a low sided baking pan or broiler pan, salt and pepper them, then roast them 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow them to rest for 30 minutes.
While the hens are resting - make the sauce. Melt the butter (or heat the oil) in a saucepan over medium high heat. Add the onions and garlic, sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes along with their juice; simmer 6 - 8 minutes. Add the cilantro and jalapenos and stir 1 minute. Add the reserved marinade, turn up the heat and bring to a vigorous boil; reduce the heat and simmer at least 30 minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened slightly. Add any pan juices accumulated from the resting hens and continue to reduce. Add some cornstarch mixed with water to thicken, if desired. Keep the sauce warm.
When ready to serve, heat some olive oil in a large saute pan over high heat. Cut the hens into halves; put them skin side down to sear, turn the hens several times to evenly brown and crisp the skin, about 5 minutes total.Serve the hens with the sauce.
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