My true love gave to me a Partridge in a Pear Tree. In ancient times, a partridge was often used to represent a divinely sacred king. This gift is Christ, born on this Christmas Day. My True Love is God, who gave His children everything.
There is debate as to the history of the English Christmas carol, “The Twelve Days of Christmas”. Today the story of its origins is considered by many as folklore and myth. Still, it’s an interesting tale. From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. That much is fact. As the story goes, an unknown person during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. The song has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning (a list of gifts) and the hidden meaning known only to members of the Catholic faith. It is sung as a way to teach children about their faith. While it sounds nice, when you think about the words, you would need to be a genius to figure out the hidden meaning. That said, the numbers work well tied to faith. There is only one Partridge in a Pear Tree, just as in Christian Faith there is only one Lord and Savior.
This year, I thought I’d try something a bit different – come up with a recipe tied to each of the 12 days of Christmas. Some of these offerings are going to be a real stretch, others are more obvious.
On this first day of Christmas, the hens represent the partridge. They are roasted with apples (man’s fall from grace) and pears. Enjoy!
Game Hens with Roasted Apples and Pears
2 large Lemons
1/2 cup Butter, softened
1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
1/2 teaspoon Crush Rosemary
4 Game Hens
Sea Salt to taste
White Pepper to taste
1 bunch Sage
2 Granny Smith Apples
2 D’Anjou or Bartlett Pears
1/4 cup Parsley
Heat the oven to 400-degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.
Zest both lemons, reserve the lemons. In a small bowl, mash the butter and zest together. Add paprika and rosemary, set aside.
Gently loosen the skin from breast of the hens with your finger. Divide lemon butter between the hens and slide underneath the skin . Spread gently over the breast meat. Pat the skin dry and season with salt and pepper. Set birds aside.
Halve the lemons. Peel the shallots, cut in half from tip to root. and halve the onions. Place half a lemon, half an onion, and a few sprigs of sage inside the cavity of each hen. Tuck the wings of each hen behind and, using kitchen twine, tie the legs of each hen together. Set aside.
Core the apples and the pears and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Scatter slices around the prepared baking sheet.
Place the hens on the baking sheet with the apples and pears. Roast in the heated oven for 1 hour, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted between the thigh and the breast reads 165-degrees.
Let hens rest 15 min., loosely covered with foil. Meanwhile, chop the parsley.
When ready to serve, arrange hens with the roasted fruits on a large serving platter. Sprinkle hens with parsley and serve.