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Published: Tuesday, 11/14/2000

Guinea Hen Roasted with Pistachio Butter

For Pistachio butter:

1/3 cup shelled pistachios

3/4 cup butter, softened

1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped (2 tablespoons)

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon snipped fresh savory

Pepper to taste

For Guinea Hens:

2 guinea hens (or 3 or 4 Cornish Game Hens, 1 to 11/2 pounds each)

Salt and pepper

1/2 cup finely diced onion

1/2 cup finely diced carrot

1/2 cup finely diced celery

1/4 cup chicken stock or broth

To make Pistachio Butter: Arrange pistachios in a single layer in a shallow baking pan. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 5 to 10 minutes, or until lightly toasted, stirring once. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.

Place toasted pistachios, butter, shallots, lemon juice, and savory in bowl of food processor. Process until the nuts are finely chopped. Season with pepper to taste; set aside.

To prepare hens: Carefully separate skin from breast and legs by easing your index finger between skin and meat of each hen. Spread 2 tablespoons of Pistachio Butter between skin and meat of each bird with your finger or a narrow rubber spatula. Reserve remaining Pistachio Butter for basting. Cover and chill hens for 1 to 2 hours.

Sprinkle each body cavity with salt and pepper. In a bowl, combine onion, carrot, and celery. Divide the mixture evenly among each body cavity. Tuck the ends of the drumsticks under the band of skin across the tail. If band of skin is not present, tie the drumsticks securely to the tail. Twist wing tips under the back. Place the hens on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the chicken stock or broth and the remaining Pistachio Butter. Cook and stir over low heat until butter is melted. Brush the hens with Pistachio Butter-chicken stock mixture. Return the hens to the oven. Bake uncovered for 40 to 50 minutes longer, until thermometer reaches 180 degrees, drumsticks move easily in their sockets, and juices run clear. Remove hens from oven and cover with foil. Let stand 10 to 15 minutes before carving.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Source: Debbie Gold and Michael Smith at the American Restaurant, Kansas City, Mo.

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