On the National Calendar, March 19th is Poultry Day – a day to enjoy all things poultry, from eggs at breakfast to fried chicken for supper. Poultry actually refers to all domestic birds that are raised for their meat and eggs. Poultry includes chicken, turkey, ducks, geese, quail and even pheasant. The most common farm raised poultry are chickens.
Any other day of the week and National Poultry Day would be a slam-dunk – we eat a lot of chicken in our house and who doesn’t have a favorite egg dish for breakfast? Could make an entire day out of it – fried eggs with turkey bacon for breakfast, Turkey Club for lunch, and roast quail or Peking Duck for dinner.
But it’s also Friday. And not just any Friday but the 5th Friday of Lent. Old School, no meat on Fridays throughout the year. New School abstinent Fridays during Lent Catholics. The faithful would not be able to get beyond eggs for breakfast. No bacon, just the eggs.
As luck would have today is not just any Friday during Lent. It’s March 19, the Solemnity of Saint Joseph. And just as the Irish have been granted a special dispensation to allow Corned Beef on Saint Patrick’s Day even on a Lenten Friday, there are special considerations for Saint Joseph as well. Canon Law is clear – the abstinence from meat is observed by all Catholics on Fridays during Lent. However; per that same Law, abstinence does not apply on Solemnity Days. Solemnity Days have the highest ranking within the Church and therefore are exempt from certain restrictions. All Sundays are Solemnity Days, which is why the rules of Lent do not apply to Sundays. The Feast of Saint Joseph is also a Solemnity Feast. So we have a pass without the need to bother our Bishop with special dispensation before ordering that pepperoni pizza or having beautiful roasted game hens for supper. I say, if are granted a reprieve in the middle of Lent to celebrate, let’s really make it count.
Grape-Stuffed Kahlua Game Hens with Kahlua Sauce
2 Oranges, divided
1/2 cup Kahlua
2 tablespoons Lemon Juice
1/2 teaspoon Yellow Mustard
1/4 teaspoon Paprika
3 tablespoons Butter
4 Game Hens
Pinch Kosher Salt
White Pepper to taste
3/4 Cup Seedless Green Grapes (approximately) for stuffing
Red Grapes for garnish
Position oven rack to lower third position. Heat oven to 425-degrees.
Slice first orange into rounds, peel rounds and set aside. Leave peel on remaining orange, slice in half. Juice half the orange, set juice aside. Slice remaining half into wheels for garnish. Wrap in plastic and set aside. Trim ends from the lemon, quarter lemons, peel and set aside.
In a small saucepan, combine Kahlua with orange juice, lemon juice, mustard and paprika. Add butter. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer 1 minute.
Rinse game hens under cold water. Pat dry with paper towels. Season cavity of each with salt and pepper. Place 1 slice of lemon under skin of each breast. Place 1 slice of orange into neck of game hen. Stuff cavity with grapes. Spoon 1 tablespoon Kahlua-baste into each cavity. Truss or skewer legs and wings. Arrange hens, breast-side up in a shallow rimmed baking pan.
Cover hens loosely with foil and place in the oven. Immediately reduce oven to 375-degrees and roast for 30 minutes.
Remove foil, brush hens with Kahlua-baste. Continue cooking about 30 minutes, basting occasionally. If necessary, cover with foil to prevent over-browning. Remove hens from oven, remove trussing or skewers and transfer to serving platter. Tent to keep warm while making the sauce.
To make Kahlua Sauce add pan drippings to remaining Kahlua baste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Spoon over hens.
Garnish serving platter with additional grapes and orange slices. For a dramatic presentation, serve hens surrounded by Long Grain and Wild Rice.
Farmhouse Wild Rice
1 box Farmhouse Wild Rice
1-1/3 cup Chicken Stock
Pinch Kosher Salt
1 tablespoon Butter
Empty rice into a saucepan. Add stock, seasoning package and a pinch of salt. Place butter on top. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to low, cover and simmer for 25 minutes.
Remove from heat, let sit for 5 minutes covered. Fluff and pile rice on either end of the serving platter with roasted hens.