This recipe is inspired by one of my favorite dishes, ratatouille. This vegetable dish originates from Nice, and can be served hot or cold. Ratatouille features zucchini, tomatoes, onions, and eggplant, stewed or baked together. It is delicious freshly made, but even better if eaten the next day. The same is true of duxelles, which is a mixture of different types of minced mushrooms and their stems, along with minced shallots and onions (or both) that have been cooked ‘til greatly reduced and quite thick. This basic mixture is then used as a stuffing, gravy, or as a garnish.
- Cook Time
- Prep Time
- ¼ cup of olive oil
- 2 onions, cut in half and sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, sliced thin
- 1 large eggplant, cut into large cubes
- 4 small yellow squash, cut lengthwise then sliced
- 4 vine-ripened tomatoes, roughly diced
- 1 cup fresh parsley leaves, minced
- Leaves from 3 sprigs of fresh tarragon, minced
- 8 fresh basil leaves, minced
- 8 fresh sage leaves, minced
- 1 ½ cups dry white wine (I prefer Chardonnay)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 package crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, minced
- 1 package small white button mushrooms, minced
- 2 shallots (4 pieces), sliced very thinly
- 2 tablespoons dry white wine
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 4 Cornish Hens (ensure they are 1 - 1 ½ pounds, not larger)
- ½ of the reserved duxelles mixture
1. Prepare the eggplant by cutting into cubes, then laying on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle lightly with salt and allow to sit for 30 minutes.
2. Using a large pot (6 quarts or bigger), add your olive oil. When it is hot, add the onions. When the onions start to turn translucent (5 to 7 minutes on medium-high heat) add your garlic. When the garlic starts to soften, lower your flame to medium.
3. Add the eggplant, stirring it into the rest of the ingredients. Cover and let sweat for about 5 to 7 minutes or until it starts to soften. Then add your zucchini and squash, cover, and leave to sit for 3 to 5 minutes, just enough for it to start to soften.
4. Add your tomatoes, fresh herbs, and white wine. Stir gently to incorporate. Cover and turn flame to medium-low heat, and let simmer for 30 minutes or until all vegetables are tender but not mushy. Add salt and pepper (to taste) at this point.
5. Using a slotted spoon, transfer ¾ of the ratatouille into a separate pot to cool and reserve. Refrigerate.
6. Using a stick (immersion) blender, blend the remaining liquid and ratatouille well. Cool completely and reserve.
7. In 2 extra-strong, 2-gallon Ziploc bags (double bag if need be) add one half of the cooled liquid from the ratatouille, and 2 Cornish hens. Marinate overnight.
1. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan, and when oil is hot, add shallots. When the shallots become clear (5 minutes on high heat), add the mushrooms.
2. Lower heat to medium-high and cook the mushrooms down for 20 to 25 minutes, until they are well-browned and have shrunk considerably.
3. Add the white wine, and cook for 5 minutes longer to reduce. Cool completely and reserve.
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Carefully separate skin from breastbone using your fingers to make a pocket of the skin.
3. Fill, but don’t overfill, the pocket between skin and breast with the duxelles mixture.
4. Cook breast-side down for about 1 hour, or until thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh reads 180°F.
1. Reheat the ratatouille and duxelles. In the middle of the plate, place a large spoonful of ratatouille. Place Cornish hen, breast-side down, in the middle of the ratatouille, then garnish with duxelles. For family-style service, take a large serving platter and spoon out the ratatouille, then arrange the hens on top. Then garnish with remaining duxelles.