Ingredients - Adapted from La Cucina Italiana
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup coarse cornmeal
4 cornish game hens
Freshly ground black pepper
8 fresh sage leaves
8 thin slices speck or prosciutto
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 small carrot, finely diced
1 small shallot, finely chopped
⅓ cup dry white wine
½ pound fresh wild mushrooms such as trumpet, crimini or porcini, trimmed, halved or quartered, if large
2 small garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
Extra-virgin olive oil
Special equipment: Wooden picks or 6-inch skewers, soaked well before using, if bamboo (if you have them. If not, I just used toothpicks)
Heat oven to 450°.
Meanwhile, discard any innards from cavity of cornish game hen; rinse inside and out, pat dry and season cavity and outside with salt and pepper. Put 1 sage leaf into the cavity of 1 cornish game hen; place a second sage leaf on top of breast side. Wrap breast of cornish game hen with 1 prosciutto slice, turn and repeat on the other side. Thread cavity closed with a skewer (or toothpicks). Repeat with remaining cornish game hen.
In a large ovenproof skillet, heat butter over medium heat until melted and bubbles form; add cornish game hen, breast side down. Sear for 7 minutes, breast side down, then turn breast side up and sear for another 7 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven and roast for 6 minutes; roasting until just cooked through (check inner thigh—meat will still be slightly pink, and a thermometer should read 165 degrees F).
Remove pan from oven; transfer to a plate. Reserve pan (with drippings).
In a separate heavy saucepan bring chicken stock to a boil; gradually whisk in cornmeal. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, until polenta is very thick and pulls away from side of pan, 8 to 10 minutes.
In the reserved chicken pan, add carrot and shallot to skillet (skillet handle will be very hot; use a heavy pot holder to handle); place pan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until carrot is tender, about 8 minutes. Add wine, increase heat to medium-high and simmer for 1 minute. Add mushrooms, garlic, chives and pinch salt and pepper and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are just tender, 2 to 3 minutes more.
Spoon polenta and vegetables onto plates. Top with cornish game hen. Drizzle with pan drippings and serve.