Truffled Stuffed Game Hen
Time requirement: It is a commitment. Preparation takes about 15 minutes. Plus, another 1½ hour to cook. You must be near the kitchen the entire time the ballotine cooks. Like the Ballotine of Rabbit recipe, you are its prisoner. It is worthy of the effort. It is an impressive dish.
What you will need:
A 2 to 2½ pound game hen.
½ teaspoon each kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
15 grams sliced truffles. You can purchase 25-30 grams jars of sliced truffles online. (Freeze what you do not use.)
3-4 chicken livers. Plus, the liver that came with the bird. (if it did).
The gibbets that came with the game hen, except the liver, but remove any skin from the neck. This is optional sometime no giblets come with the bird.
2 tablespoons olive oil.
1 garlic clove peeled.
2 cup white wine or chicken stock or a combination of the two, plus a little more in reserve.
Rinse the game hen under cold running water. Thoroughly pat dry with paper towels. Place the salt and pepper inside the cavity of the bird.
From the neck (wishbone area) use your fingers to loosen the skin on the bird’s breast. Insert sliced truffles between the skin and the flesh.
Run the chicken livers through your fingers and identify and remove any hard bits with a knife. Chop the remaining truffles, reserve ½ teaspoon, mix the rest of the truffles the chicken livers and stuff the livers and truffles into the bird.
Truss the bird by tying its legs together with cotton twine. Then using another piece of twine wrap it under the neck and of the bird, come up around the wings, and tie it tightly onto the breast.
Heat a 4-5-quart Dutch oven on top of the stove over a medium heat. When it is hot, add the oil and the garlic clove. When the garlic clove begins to sizzle, add the bird to the pan breast up. Brown the bird on all four sides being careful not to tear the flesh: the best way to do this is to leave the bird until it naturally releases itself from the bottom of the pan each time before turning it. When brown on all sides, turn it breast side up.
While you are browning the bird, be careful not to burn the garlic. It should just brown. Remove if it begins to overcook.
Add ½ cup white wine, the giblets, and the garlic clove (if you removed it) to the pan. Place the cover on the pan slightly ajar. Lower the heat to low to maintain a simmer. The wine should just intermittently simmer. Cook 1¼ hours. As the wine cooks it will reduce, as it does add a little more wine (or water or stock) to keep pan moist. Check in every 8 minutes while it cooks. (I told you that you are its prisoner.) After 1¼ hour cooking, use a meat thermometer to test for doneness at 165 degrees F the bird is cooked. But also test the liver in the center of the bird. It too should be at least 145 degrees.
When it is done, add the reserved truffles to the pan juices. Turn off the heat. Cover the pan. Allow the bird to rest ¼-½ hour in the pan before cutting it in half and serving it. If it was a little underdone, it will finish cooking during this rest. Remove the bird to a cutting board.
Reheat the pan juices. Slice the bird in half, place each half on a warm serving plate with the pan sauce.
This makes for a memorable meal. Serve with a well-chilled Champaign.