Lemongrass Rubbed Game Hen & Artichokes with a Garlic Ginger Aioli

This week’s recipe is truly in the 5ive Dollar Feast tradition. In a recent trip to the store, I found the following ingredients on a great discount: Cornish game hens, lemongrass, and artichokes. I bought all three determined to make a good meal out of them that paired well together.

I’ve roasted a lot of chickens and hens in my day. Normally I rub a bird with an herb butter, such as my Butterflied Chicken over Celery Root, or I glaze them, like my Imperial Indian Hens. I wanted to try an Asian inspired bird this time, since the lemongrass would lend itself well to that. It was something I hadn’t tried before.

My solution was to create a marinade of lemongrass, sriracha (leftover from recently making some Hawaiian Spareribs,) and a hefeweizen beer. Then I wanted to roast them in the oven. I don’t own a roasting pan that fits into my small oven, however. Luckily, necessity is the mother of invention, as they say, and I came up with a plan. Only the bottom third of lemongrass is really usable in a recipe, as that is where the soft meaty part of the lemongrass is. The top two-thirds are usually discarded. I decided to create a V-shaped roasting area in my pan by leaning half of these stalks on either side of the pan. It ended up adding more flavor to the dish as well as being visually appealing. Any guests you have will be very impressed when you serve the hens from this lemongrass roasting rack.

The result was an American-Thai fusion game hen that was very tender and full of flavor, with just a little kick from the sriracha.

But how to tie the Artichokes into the dish? I steamed the ‘chokes like I usually do, but needed to change my usual garlic aioli. I added ginger powder and a touch of cayenne pepper to my usual aioli recipe and it was delightful. All the usual enjoyment of artichokes, without the side dish jarring you out of the thai fusion style meal I had created.

This whole meal paired extremely well with a very cheap low alcohol wine from Portugal known as Vinho Verde. Check your local wine shop to find a bottle. This meal was really a gamble on my part, but sometimes you are lucky enough to find that your gambles in the kitchen really pay off and I wanted to share this creation with you to help inspire you not to be afraid to combine unique ingredients together that you find on sale.

Lemongrass Rubbed Game Hen

2 game hens

8 stalks of lemongrass

1 Tablespoon Sriracha or Sambal Olek

3 cloves of garlic

¼ of bottle (12 ounces) of your favorite hefeweizen or wheat beer

1 teaspoon dried ginger (or 1 Tablespoon minced fresh ginger)

salt to taste

  1. Create the marinade. Begin by removing the top two thirds from each lemongrass stalk. Reserve them for later in the recipe. Remove the outer leaves of the lemongrass until you are left with the soft inner ‘meat’ of the stalk.
  2. Combine the soft lemongrass ‘meat’ with the sriracha or sambal olek, garlic, beer, ginger, and salt in a food processor. Puree until well combined. (You can also finely mince all of these ingredients, the food processor will just make the job easier and faster.)
  3. Pour the marinade over the two hens. Be sure to use your fingers to loosen the skin from the breast meat and allow rub the marinade between the skin and the meat.
  4. Marinate from 4 to 12 hours.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Remove the hens from the refrigerator for 15 minutes to allow the hens to come to room temperature.
  6. Create a V-shape in your pan by leaning the upper stalks of the lemongrass from the sides of the roasting pan down into the center of the pan on either side.
  7.  Place the hens in this V and roast them at 375 for 1 hour, basting every 20 minutes.
  8. Remove the hens from the oven and raise the heat to a broil. After 5 minutes, return the hens to the oven for 10 more minutes until the hens are nice and brown. Remove from the oven and let the hens sit 10 minutes before serving. The internal temperature should be 160 degrees.

Garlic Ginger Aioli

1 cup mayonnaise

2 Tablespoon lemon juice

3 clove of garlic, pressed or minced

1 Tablespoon ginger powder (or 2 Tablespoons ginger juice, squeezed from a ginger root.)

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Serve as a dip for steamed or grilled artichokes.

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