Ancho-Rubbed Game Hen

Ancho (Ahn-cho) Chile (Capsicum Annum) means Wide Chile Pepper. This chile ranges from 3 – 4 on a heat scale of 1 to 10. An Ancho is the dried form of a Poblano Pepper and often is mislabeled as a Pasilla or Mulato Pepper. Anchos have sweet fruity flavor with hints of cherry, prune, and fig. Anchos, combined with the Pasilla and Guajillo, form the Holy Trinity of chiles used to prepare the traditional mole sauces. Scoville heat units are 1,000 to 3,000.

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6 Ancho chiles, dried
8 cups boiling water
2 Tbsp garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp cilantro, minced
2 cups cornmeal
2 Tbsp curry powder
2 Tbsp cumin, ground
salt and pepper
2 Rock Cornish game hens breasts, skinned and boned
1 cup olive oil


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the ancho chiles in a large bowl, cover them with the boiling water, and soak them for 30 minutes to overnight. Drain the chiles well, then remove and discard the seed and stems. Place the chiles in a blender with the garlic, salt, and cilantro. Puree and set aside.

Combine the cornmeal, curry powder,cumin, salt, and pepper, and spread in a jelly-roll pan. Spread the hen breasts generously and evenly with the chile puree, then dredge them in the seasoned cornmeal. Place a large saute pan or skillet over high heat, add the oil, and heat until it begins to smoke. Add the hen breasts and cook two to three minutes, or until the topping is crisp. Turn the breasts, cook the other side until crisp, then transfer the breasts to the preheated oven to cook another five minutes or until opaque throughout.

Serves 2.

From Bobby Flay, Mesa Grill.