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Oolong Scented Game Hens

Varina Jones TeaChef Level 1

This makes a lovely game hen that is moist and deeply flavorful. The oolong adds a rich smoky flavor and deep caramel color to the skin. Add a nice crusty baguette and suggested side and this is the perfect slightly fancy, yet easy and quick, dinner for one or two. After all, sometimes you just need to treat yourself. Prep time: 20 min. Marinate time: 6 hours Cook time: 20 min.

6 h 40 m 2


  • 5 tsp. oolong tea leaves
  • 2 c. water
  • 2 tsp. sea salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed lightly
  • 15-20 black peppercorns
  • 5 sprigs parsley
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1 game hen
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • saut� greens (serving suggestion)


Brew tea in hot water and steep 5 min. Strain.

While brewed tea is still warm, mix with salt, garlic, peppercorns, parsley, and thyme, mixing until salt is fully dissolved. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Place the bird inside a small plastic container or sturdy plastic zipper bag. Pour brine over the bird, making sure it is fully submerged.

Place in the fridge and allow to marinate at least 6 hours.

When ready to cook, place an aluminum foil covered brick inside a cool oven and heat both to 500°F.

Place an 8-10" cast ion skillet over medium heat and add olive oil.

Drain brine off hen, remove any herbs and spices, and pat dry. Remove the spine by placing the bird breast side down on a cutting board. Using scissors or poultry shears, cut from the neck to the tailbone to remove the backbone. You will then be able to see the inside of the bird. Make a small slit in the cartilage at the base of the breastbone to reveal the keel bone. Grab the bird with both hands on the ribs and open up like a book, facing down towards the cutting board. Remove the keel bone.

Add bird to heated skillet and cover with heated brick. Allow to cook on stovetop for 5 min., then place a meat thermometer deep within the thickest part of the thigh meat. Place in oven and bake until internal temperature reaches 175°F, about 15-20 min. Remove from skillet and rest for 5 min.

Serve with sautEed greens: Place skillet back over medium heat, whisk in 2 tbsp. white wine and 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard, combine thoroughly, then stir in medium hardy greens such as chard, broccoli rabe, kale, or arugula. Heat until wilted, then plate with bird.

To double recipe: increase brine ingredients by 50%, use two hens, and cook in a 14 in skillet. Double all ingredients for dressed greens.

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