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Cornish Game Hens with Cherry Vanilla Sauce

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This is a great pull-out-the-stops recipe for an elegant meal, but it’s also really easy to assemble. Pitting the cherries takes time unless you have a pitter, a handy gadget that speeds things up exponentially.

The first time I made this recipe was when I wrote The Vanilla Cookbook in 1985. I have fond memories of the afternoon. I lived in a rural area next to a stream. It was  June and the air was warm. Friends drove down from San Francisco and had picked up fresh English peas from a roadside stand. We sat by the stream pitting the fat, juicy cherries and shelling the peas. We cooked the peas in a steamer, wrapped in lettuce leaves. They were so sweet and plump, and the game hens and cherries so succulent, that we could barely speak. It was perfect!

I’m updating all of my recipes and adding photos. I wasn’t about to make four game hens for the photo, so I purchased one lovely organic game hen at Whole Foods. It was so large that it easily could serve two. I say this because you don’t necessarily need one whole bird per person, though it’s a nice touch to send the leftovers home with your guests. Substitute  frozen cherries instead of the fresh unless they’re in season.

The wild rice pancakes I made with the game hens are a knockout! Crunchy, flavorful and savory, a nice foil for the cherry sauce. I made a half-recipe so that I could have some with maple syrup this morning. You can prepare them the day before and then heat them in the skillet before serving. For an easier option, the Brown and Wild Rice Pilaf can be made ahead and warmed in the oven while the Cornish hens finish roasting. Change the herbs to suit your taste.

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Patricia Rain
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Patricia Rain

is an author, educator, culinary historian, and owner of The Vanilla Company (www.vanillaqueen.com), a socially conscious, product-driven information and education site dedicated to the promotion of pure, natural vanilla, and the support of vanilla farmers worldwide. She also does culinary presentations for food professionals, cooking schools, trade shows, food fairs, and private groups, and is a regular radio and TV guest.
Patricia Rain
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