One of the most familiar (and enjoyable) flavor combinations to many cultures – sour and sweet or, as the Italians call it, agrodolce. There is something about tartness and sweetness that just makes you want more. Think Sour Patch Kids, Pisco or Whiskey Sours or your favorite Chinese take-out order. Yes, sweet and sour is everywhere.
A traditional agrodolce is very basic and usually only includes vinegar, sugar and maybe wine. Similar to the French gastrique, agrodolce was thought to have been brought to Sicily from the Arabs. We took a few other sour/sweet combos and added them to our basic sauce, just to up the flavor a few notches. Let me tell you folks, this is a winner. Thanks to the amazing vinegar sauce we ate at Prune a while back, we figured the addition of raisins and cornichons wouldn’t hurt. In fact, we wished we had made more of the sauce just to eat it by itself.
This agrodolce would work well with many other things besides cornish game hen such as pork, chicken or fish. Get a nice crust or crispy skin on any of those and the sauce will meld perfectly with it. We hope you give this a try.
- 2 Cornish Game Hens
- salt & pepper
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 shallot, diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 cups chicken stock (or veggie stock)
- 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
- 2/3 cup white wine
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- juice of 1/2 lemon (reserve the half of lemon to add to sauce)
- 3 heaping teaspoons of peach/orange or apricot jam (like Bonne Maman)
- 1/4 cup raisins or currants
- 10 pitted kalamata olives, cut in half
- 5 cornichons/gherkins (sliced thinly in rounds)
- 2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons pignoli nuts, toasted
What to do:
- Spatchcock the cornish game hen – at best flatten it out – Step 3. Rub Cornish Game Hen liberally with salt and pepper and grill on outdoor or indoor grill until done (time will depend on size).
- Sauté onion, shallots and garlic until a bit soft – about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add stock, wine, vinegar, lemon juice with the lemon and mustard and simmer until reduced by 1/2.
- Strain the sauce through a sieve to remove the onions, shallots and garlic. Add strained sauce back to the pan. Add the raisins, jam, olives and corninchons and continue to reduce again by half.
- Turn off heat and stir in cold butter.
- Using a meat cleaver or sharp chefs knife, chop hens in half. Serve a half of game hen on a plate and spoon sauce on the sides. Garnish with some raisins, olives, cornichons (all from the sauce) and pignoli nuts. Enjoy!