Lately, I’ve been trying to expand upon my usual stand-by meals, and make some new things. In the last two weeks, in addition to some of my slightly overused recipes, we’ve had chicken pot pie, beef stroganoff, Cornish game hens in a currant-brandy glaze stuffed with wild rice, and pork chops simmered in apple sauce, with wild rice and cauliflower – and I think tonight I might do chicken breast stuffed with goat cheese and currant jelly, or pork chops parmesan.
The beef stroganoff and Cornish game hens were firsts for me – I made the beef stroganoff on New Year’s Eve, and the game hens were made on New Year’s Day. I figured we might as well have something special each evening for dinner, and was happy to spend some extra time in the kitchen. It’s a really good thing I enjoy cooking just for the sake of cooking, and don’t necessarily need external validation, as it turned out.
While I made the stroganoff, N made appreciative and happy comments; when I grabbed the mushrooms in the store he was excited that I’d be cooking with them (I despise mushrooms), and his excitement continued throughout the prep¹. Upon tasting the stroganoff, we agreed the garlic wasn’t diced quite finely enough, and N generously offered suggestions for improvement. So, I did what any good wife would do; agreed with him and asked if he could help me with the garlic next time. I do recruit him for some of the prep work on occasion and he’s quite good at that, even if the only things I’ve ever seen him actually cook are grits, hot dogs, and spaghetti.
In any case, the stroganoff was quite good despite the garlic problem; it’s definitely something I’ll be making more often. Which brings us to the Cornish game hens…
To be honest, I’m not quite sure what I was thinking when I decided to make Cornish game hens. I don’t particularly like chicken, and neither N nor I actually knows how to carve a bird, but my brain gleefully ignored these items, and focused instead on how sophisticated it all sounded. Cornish game hens in a currant-brandy glaze, stuffed with wild rice. It sounds adult, and apparently I was on another, “I’m all grown up” kick. So I spent a good two hours in the kitchen, prepping and coddling them until they were the image of perfection.
To be fair – for what they were, they were amazing! The glaze was incredibly good, and the rice was perfect, and I almost didn’t mind that we had to put them back in the oven for a bit because N was feeling paranoid about the miniscule amount of pink near the joints. I was thrilled when N turned to me and said, “You know, I would never in a million years make something like this.”
I asked, “Why not?” I was thinking, of course, that he meant he would never think to make something like it, or he didn’t think he could pull it off.
“Because it’s too hard for someone to eat. I’d be just as happy with chicken fingers and French fries.”
Amazingly, N is still alive, and I didn’t pour the remaining currant-brandy glaze all over his head. On the plus side, I doubt I’ll be spending two hours nurturing little Cornish game hens while they’re in the oven to make sure they’re perfectly glazed and tender. Even better – I won’t have to eat them; because really, they just taste like small chickens. Which in all honesty is probably the reason N made it out alive.
¹Sadly, he was not quite excited enough to finish chopping up the onion that I’d been working on – he offered to do so, I accepted gratefully…and he wandered away for a moment, forgot what he was supposed to be doing, and started playing a video game. Luckily, I’m used to this, and it generally just generates a case of the giggles.