Cornish Hens with Sweet Vermouth and Garlic

From Gourmet Magazine, October 2004

2 Cornish hens (Approx 1 ½ – 2 lbs ea), halved lengthwise

salt

black pepper

1 cup sweet (red) vermouth

6 large garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

4 fresh thyme sprigs, or 2 teaspoons if using dry

1 cup chicken stock

Preheat the oven to 450°F.  

  1. Pat the hens dry, and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Place them cut sides down in a sheet pan or large skillet.  Roast until they’re almost cooked through, around 160° internal temperature, for approximately 30 minutes.
  2. While the hens are roasting, simmer vermouth, garlic, thyme, and ½ cup stock, uncovered, in a saucepan until garlic is soft, about 15 minutes. Discard the thyme sprig, if using fresh. Mash garlic into sauce with a fork and simmer until reduced to a glaze (about 3-4 tablespoons). Brush glaze onto the almost-cooked hens, and roast 5 minutes more. Pour remaining ½ cup stock into the saucepan, swirling to dissolve any remaining glaze, and set aside.
  3. Transfer hens to a serving dish and let stand, loosely covered with foil, for 5 minutes. Place the sheet pan or skillet from the cooked hens over a burner on your stove, then add reserved liquid from saucepan and deglaze the pan by boiling over moderate heat, scraping up brown bits with a wooden spoon, until reduced slightly.
  4. Season the juices in the pan with salt and pepper and pour over hens.

Makes 2 servings