There's nothing quite like the aroma of a roast in the oven, but cooking a large turkey or roast beef can be both daunting and time-consuming. So what if you could prepare a stress-free holiday dinner in less than 45 minutes? Tony Aiazzi, executive chef of Aureole restaurant in New York City, offers a quick and easy recipe for bacon-draped Cornish hen with acorn squash, chestnuts and radicchio.
- 2 acorn squash
- 2 pears, choose fruit on the firmer side
- 24 chestnuts, shelled
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 4 pieces star anise
- 2 bunches radicchio, cut into wedges
- 8 Cornish game hens
- 16 slices bacon
- 1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar
Cut the acorn squash widthwise into rings about 1 ¼" thick, remove the seeds. Cut the pears into six pieces and remove the sections of core. It’s OK to leave the skin on for both the squash and the pears. Turn on the broiler and adjust the racks in your oven so the tops of the birds will be approximately 10 inches away from the heating element while in the oven. First brush a roasting pan that is large enough to hold all of the ingredients with some of the melted butter and then arrange the squash rings, pears and chestnuts evenly into it. Place the cinnamon sticks, star anise over top and drizzle with remaining melted butter. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Place the roasting pan in the oven for approximately 15 minutes or until lightly browned on top and just beginning to get tender. This begins cooking the squash, pears and chestnuts as they can take longer than the hens and will be further away from the heat while they are cooking. While the garnish is cooking, prepare the hens. Season them well inside and out with salt and pepper. Lay two slices of bacon each over the breasts. When the garnish is browned, remove the pan from the oven and lay the birds evenly over top, bacon side up. Tuck the wedges of radicchio around the roasting pan and return to the oven. Cook for approximately 25 minutes or until juices from the hens run clear and all of the garnishes have nicely browned. Carefully remove hens from roasting pan. Place garnish on large platter and set hens on top. Drizzle a little aged balsamic vinegar over the entire presentation and serve.Note: For a beef variation, the same method can be used but the individual portions will have to be seared first so they can develop a nice colored crust all around. Six-ounce portions of tenderloin, strip loin, or sirloin can all be used.