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Hens roasted with figs and port

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Globe Staff / September 28, 2003

4 Cornish hens ( 3/4 to 1 pound each)

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 sprig fresh rosemary

Pared rind of 1 lemon

8 cipollini onions or 4 other small onions, cut into quarters

1/2 pound dried figs, halved

1/2 cup port

1 cup chicken stock

Set the oven at 425 degrees. Wash and dry the hens inside and out. Place them in a roasting pan. In a bowl, mix together the mustard, oil, salt, and pepper. Rub this mixture all over the hens.

Sprinkle the cavities with salt and pepper. Tuck some rosemary leaves and lemon rind into each hen. Arrange the onions and figs around the hens. Pour the port over the birds.

Transfer the roasting pan to the hot oven. Roast the hens for 50 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 170 degrees. Baste the birds with the juices in the pan once or twice during cooking.

Remove the hens from the oven. Set them on a cutting board. Transfer the figs and onions to a warm bowl and cover loosely with foil. Set aside in a warm place.

Pour the stock into the roasting pan. Set it over a burner and turn the heat to high. Scrape the bottom of the pan. Let the mixture simmer for 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, use kitchen shears to cut the hens along either side of the backbone. Discard the backbones. Cut the hens in half along the breastbone. Arrange the hens on each of 4 dinner plates, garnish with the figs and onions, and spoon the pan juices over the top. Serve at once.

SERVES 4

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