Roasted Hens in Woodland Wine

Posted March 13, 2014 by Alison's Wonderland Recipes in Book of the Month Recipes / 2 Comments

The map in the background is a print reproduction of the map in at the beginning of the book. It can be purchased at wetaNZ.com (clicking the image will take you to the site). Use of this map is in no way associated with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, New Line Productions Inc, or The Saul Zaentz Company

I must confess, I’ve never been a huge fan of elves. Elegance and refinement aren’t really my thing (for more information, see last week’s post on the awesomeness of dwarves). However, I have profound respect for the elves’ ability to throw a party. While trekking through Mirkwood Forest, Bilbo and the dwarves stumble upon an elvish feast complete with music, dancing, and (of course) buckets of food.

…though, being elves, they probably didn’t serve it in actual buckets.

I decided to feature a dish from this very feast as the entree for our Hobbit menu this week. I’ve always had the impression that the Mirkwood elves, though dignified, live a little closer to the land than their Rivendell cousins. To illustrate this, I wanted to serve something basic, with a touch of class. Young roasting hens (halfway in size between Cornish and regular) came to me as a simple, yet distinguished alternative to regular chicken. But how to dress them up enough for a feast? Since Mirkwood elves are famous for their love of wine, the answer was clear: Roasted Hens in Woodland Wine!

The result was a couple of juicy roasted chickens with crispy skin, drenched in a sweet, yet tangy blackberry wine sauce (the original sauce recipe can be found at the Taste of Home website).

Come join us at the woodland feast! Maybe this time we’ll convince the elves to share. 😉

Roasted Hens in Woodland Wine

“There were many people there, elvish-looking folk, all dressed in green and brown and sitting on sawn rings of the felled trees in a great circle. There was a fire in their midst and there were torches fastened to some of the trees round about; but most splendid sight of all: they were eating and drinking and laughing merrily.”
— The Hobbit

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 young hens (about 4 lbs each)
  • 4 tbsp of butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 cup blackberry merlot
  • 1 pint fresh blackberries
  • 1 tbsp sugar (the original recipe calls for 2 tbsp, but I used a really sweet wine)
  • Makes 4 servings

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. First, preheat your oven to 350°.
  2. The next step is to prep the hens. First, you’ll want to run your fingers under the skin around the breast and ribs, separating it from the meat. This helps the skin to get nice and crispy! If the skin splits, don’t fret yourself. A few tears here and there won’t hurt it. 🙂
  3. After that, rub the butter all over the skin and sprinkle on the salt and pepper. You’ll want to be sure to get underneath the skin that you loosened earlier. This will allow the meat to absorb more flavor, and the oil will also help it to retain its juices.

    Full disclosure: I did one hen with butter and one with olive oil. I liked the flavor of the buttered hen better, and it browned more evenly. However, I felt like the olive flavor in the second hen complimented the wine in the sauce. Final conclusion: both are good, so I’d say just go with your gut when picking which fat to use.
  4. Place your hens breast-side up in a shallow metal pan. Next, twist the wings of each chicken so that the tips tuck underneath the ribs, and truss the legs with kitchen string. I usually just truss mine in a figure eight pattern, but if you’re interested in a more detailed technique, Chef Martin Gilligan has a great tutorial.
  5. Pop the hens in the oven for about 50 minutes, or until the juices run clear (since mine were slightly bigger, I cooked them for about 55 minutes).
  6. While the hens are busy in the oven, combine the wine, blackberries, and sugar together in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring it to boiling, then turn the burner down and allow it to simmer for 20 minutes.

    What a bubbly, beautiful, sweet-smelling mess! Your berries should be soft and plump when they’re all done.
  7. Transfer the hens to individual plates or a serving platter, and ladle the sauce into individual serving bowls.
  8. And that’s it! The whole process doesn’t doesn’t take much longer than an hour. Easy, right? Enjoy while reading all about the succulent woodland feast in The Hobbit…now you can feel like you’re there! 🙂

    Two young hens were more than enough for The Mister and me, so we got to have leftovers the next night…I may or may not have licked my plate both times. 😉

 

 

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Here’s the Yummly Printable!

Roasted Hens in Woodland Wine

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 young hens (about 4 lbs each)
  • 4 tbsp of butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 cup blackberry merlot
  • 1 pint fresh blackberries
  • 1 tbsp sugar

Instructions

  1. First, preheat your oven to 350°.
  2. The next step is to prep the hens. First, you'll want to run your fingers under the skin around the breast and ribs, separating it from the meat. This helps the skin to get nice and crispy! If the skin splits, don't fret yourself. A few tears here and there won't hurt it.
  3. After that, rub the butter all over the skin and sprinkle on the salt and pepper. You'll want to be sure to get underneath the skin that you loosened earlier. This will allow the meat to absorb more flavor, and the oil will also help it to retain its juices.
  4. Place your hens breast-side up in a shallow metal pan. Next, twist the wings of each chicken so that the tips tuck underneath the ribs, and truss the legs with kitchen string.
  5. Pop the hens in the oven for about 50 minutes, or until the juices run clear.
  6. While the hens are busy in the oven, combine the wine, blackberries, and sugar together in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring it to boiling, then turn the burner down and allow it to simmer for 20 minutes.
  7. Transfer the hens to individual plates or a serving platter, and ladle the sauce into individual serving bowls.
  8. And that's it! The whole process doesn't doesn't take much longer than an hour. Easy, right? Enjoy while reading all about the succulent woodland feast in The Hobbit...now you can feel like you're there!
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