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2000s Recipes + Menus

Fricassee of Game Hen with Creamy Leeks and Vadouvan

Serves 6
  • Active time:1 hr
  • Start to finish:1 3/4 hr
September 2008
This fricassee couldn’t be more French, but its velvety sauce carries the flavor of vadouvan, a South Indian spice blend that has started to crop up on Parisian menus. We find it irresistible.

Learn the story behind this dish in our series
The Recipe. For more recipes inspired by the City of Light, visit our Paris City Guide.

For stock

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Backbones and wing tips from 3 Cornish hens
  • 6 cups cold water
  • 3 cups chopped reserved leek greens (see below)
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 celery rib, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 large thyme sprigs
  • 1 whole clove
  • 1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
  • 1/8 teaspoon black peppercorns

For fricassee

  • 3 Cornish hens, quartered, backbones and wing tips removed with kitchen shears
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 leeks (about 3 lb), greens reserved for stock
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup vadouvan (Indian spice blend)

Make stock:

  • Heat oil in a heavy medium pot over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Cook backbones and wing tips until well browned on all sides. Add water and bring to a boil, skimming froth occasionally. Add remaining ingredients and boil, uncovered, 30 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean saucepan, pressing on and then discarding solids. Boil stock until reduced to about 2 cups.

Make fricassee:

  • Pat hens dry and season with 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Heat oil in a deep 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Brown hens in batches (without crowding), turning once, about 8 minutes per batch. Transfer to a plate.
  • Halve white and pale green parts of leeks lengthwise, then cut into 1-inch pieces and wash. Pour off all but 1 Tbsp fat from skillet, then cook leeks with 1 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally and scraping up brown bits, until leeks begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add wine and bring to a boil. Stir in stock, cream, and vadouvan. Nestle hens, skin sides up, into leeks. Cover with a round of parchment paper. Gently simmer 10 minutes. Remove parchment and simmer until hens are cooked through, about 10 minutes more. Transfer hens to a platter and simmer sauce to thicken slightly if desired.
Cooks’ notes:
  • Fricassee can be made 1 day ahead and chilled. Reheat gently.
  • We’ve also got a web-exclusive recipe using the leftover vadouvan.