2 large cornish game hens (1 ½ to 2 lbs. each), halved
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 Tbsp virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
1 rounded tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
½ cup blanched almonds
2 Tbsp fresh basil leaves
1 jar Newman's Own® Tomato & Basil Bombolina Sauce
lemon zest curls for garnish
Preheat the oven to 425°. Rinse and pat the hens dry with paper towels. Lightly salt and pepper the insides.
On top of the stove, heat the oil in a shallow flameproof baking pan. Lightly brown the garlic, but do not let it burn. Remove and discard the garlic. Add the hens to the garlic oil and brown on all sides. Pour off the excess oil and fat in pan and arrange the hens skin side down.
Make a paste of the cinnamon, cloves, and 2 tablespoons of the vinegar. Brush half of it on the exposed undersides of the hens. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn the hens and brush with the remaining spice paste. Bake for 10 minutes more.
Meanwhile, in a mini-mixer or blender, coarsely grind the almonds. Add the basil leaves and process until the mixture has the consistency of course sand. In a bowl, blend the remaining 1 Tbsp of vinegar with the almond mixture and sauce.
Pour the pasta sauce over the hens, brushing some of it on the undersides. Bake, skin side up, for 15 minutes, or until the almond paste bubbles slightly. Serve garnished with lemon zest curls.
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