CHOPPED #1 – Katie

Cornish game hen, strawberries, canned artichoke hearts and honey oat granola cereal.

Four ingredients that have no business cohabitating in the same dish. And yet, over the course of the next two hours, it was my mission to do just that and also to make it taste good. So there I was, rushing around Whole Foods throwing random things into my basket, hoping that it would all make sense once I got home.

But much to my chagrin, artichoke hearts and strawberries still made no sense in the harsh reality of my kitchen. My first thought was to make a version of chicken and waffles. The only issue was I had no maple syrup… And no waffle maker… And no idea how to make pancakes.

With no other ideas, I knew I had to make this work. I wanted to crust the bird with the cereal but didn’t really know how to handle it. Would I dread it in flour and fry it? Or simply coat the raw bird with granola and throw it in the oven? What would I use to make it stick to the chicken? Not wanting to take the risk, I scratched the idea. Artichoke butter sounded like a real thing, so I threw some artichokes in a blender and attempted to purée them. After minutes of pulsing, it became clear that these artichoke hearts weren’t going to get any smaller. I mixed them in with a tablespoon of butter and created something with the consistency of paper mâché glue. I rubbed the mixture into the hen, sprinkled each side generously with salt and pepper and placed it in the oven at 425 degrees.

On to the strawberries. In lieu of maple syrup, I thought a strawberry balsamic glaze would go nicely with the hen so I chopped up some berries, mixed that into a cup of balsamic vinegar and set that on the stove to reduce.

 I remembered an info graphic I’d seen recently:

 As you may have noticed, this info-graphic does not illustrate exact amounts so I randomly threw a bunch of flour, a good glug of milk and a couple of eggs into the mix. The result was somewhere in between an omelette and a pancake. Pretty disgusting. I added strawberries to it, as if strawberries could resolve the issue. They didn’t. Realizing I hadn’t incorporated the honey oat granola cereal yet, I threw that in too. That certainly didn’t make it any better. A good idea in theory, but a lumpy failure in execution.

Out came the cornish hen from the oven, cooked all the way through, juicy and pretty tasty. Having had no idea how long to cook the bird for or at what temperature, I was pretty pleased with myself. However, the ‘artichoke butter’ was all for naught, as it tasted nothing like artichokes.

On a whim, I threw some artichokes into the frying pan with the hope that they might gain some color and flavor. They did… even if that flavor was more of butter than of artichoke. And onto the plate they were tossed, into the chaotic medley of strawberry blini-omelettes, mini strawberry bricks floating in a balsamic river, and artichoke-butter rubbed cornish game hen legs and wings.

Delicious.

If I could do it all over again, I would never do it again. No, I would but I would hope and pray for better ingredients and then actually think through what I was going to make before leaving the grocery store. Because once you leave the store, the gig is up and it’s up to you to make use of what you’ve got. All not planning ahead will get you are pancake omelettes and no one wants to eat those. My trash bin can confirm that.

Final Dish: Artichoke Butter-Rubbed Cornish Game Hen Leg and Wing with Strawberry Granola Blinis in a Strawberry Balsamic Glaze.

Final Score: 37 out of 50 

To read more, click here.

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