Braised Hens Nicoise recipe

Servings: 3

Small hens are tiny chickens — a hybrid developed for gourmet tastes. We guess that the hens spoken of in the song were true farm-raised hens. We wanted intense French flavor, so we decided to braise with low and slow cooking.



3 small game hens (1½ pounds total)

Salt & pepper

1 tablespoon dried crushed rosemary leaves, plus rosemary sprigs

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

3 garlic cloves, minced

½ cup finely chopped leeks

1 lemon, cut into eighths

½ cup chopped nicoise olives

1 tablespoon minced capers

½ cup chicken broth

½ cup white wine

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Sprinkle the hens with salt, pepper, and rosemary. Heat the oil in a deep-sided sauté or braising pan with Teflon™ nonstick coating. Brown the hens on all sides over medium heat. Remove. 

Add the butter and garlic; cook 1 minute, sautéing; add the leeks and cook 1 minute. Add half the lemon sections, and the olives, and capers, and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Place the remaining lemons and a rosemary sprig into the hen cavities and add hens to the pan — breast-side up; add the chicken broth, wine, and remaining rosemary sprigs. Cover the pan and reduce heat to low, cooking for 25 to 30 minutes until juices run clear and hens are golden brown.

Transfer hens to a serving platter. Discard the rosemary and all lemons and serve. (Thicken if desired by boiling the liquid with a tablespoon of flour and stirring constantly).  

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