Tea brined & roasted game hens with sauteed mushrooms

  • 3 game hens, cut in half so they have left and right halves
  • 8 cups boiling water
  • 10 lapsang souchong tea bags
  • 2 cups soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup salt
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 8 cups cold water
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • Large pinch salt
  • 1 lb. mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ cup dry red wine
  • ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped
  • Pan juices from roasted game hens
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Prepare brine: Pour the boiling water into a large bowl. Add the tea bags, soy sauce, salt and brown sugar to the boiling water. Stir the mixture until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Allow to cool to room temperature. Add the cold water and the garlic to the brine mixture and pour into a very large plastic container that can be sealed. Next, rinse the game hens and trim off their tails and any excess fat from the neck area. Add the game hen halves to the brine mixture making sure they can float freely in the brine. If they can’t, try putting three each into two containers of brine. If the game hens are frozen they can be brined over night for a lunch or early dinner. If they are fresh, they can be brined early in the morning for a dinner. Game hens will need turning after several hours in the brine. Also, if they were frozen, move their wings and thighs around after a few hours so the brine can work its way into those areas.

Roast Game Hens: Remove game hens from brine about an hour before roasting them (two hours before serving). Place them on paper towels and let them sit at room temperature to drain as much as possible. Next, preheat your oven to 375°F and place foil on top of two baking sheets. Place flat racks on each sheet pan and place three game hen halves onto each one. Put both sheet pans into your oven and roast for 30 minutes. Next, rotate the two pans and continue roasting the game hens for another 20 to 30 minutes or until they are tender, fully cooked and nicely browned. Remove the game hens from the oven and cover them lightly with foil.

Prepare Mushrooms: While game hens are resting, quickly melt the butter and olive oil in a large non-stick sauté pan over high heat. Add the salt and sauté the mushrooms until very nicely browed and the juices have cooked away. Reduce heat to low and add the garlic. Cook the garlic another couple minutes, then add the red wine. Stir and cook until the wine has reduced by half. Now add the parsley, thyme and any juices that have collected from the game hens. Stir the mushroom mixture and check for seasoning.

Serve Game Hens: Place the game hens onto a heated serving platter or onto warm serving plates. Pass the mushrooms in a serving bowl or place a large spoonful onto each individual game hen and serve immediately with your choice of side dishes. Serves 6.