Cornish Hen Stew with Lemongrass and Chiles

Cayenne is a red or green hot chili pepper used to flavor chile food dishes and is also used for medicinal purposes. Named for the city of Cayenne in French Guiana, it is a cultivar of Capsicum annuum related to bell peppers, jalapeƱos, and others.

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1 Tbsp dried green peppercorns
Two 1 1/2 lb Cornish hens
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
5 dried red chiles
4 medium shallots, smashed and peeled
3 large garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
One 3-inch piece of fresh ginger or galangal, thinly sliced
2 lemongrass stalks, tender inner white bulb only, cut into 3-inch strips and smashed
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 qt water
2 large kohlrabio or turnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 Tbsp Asian fish sauce
2 scallions, coarsely chopped
1 tsp finely grated lime zest
1/2 cup chopped cilantro


In a skillet, toast the green peppercorns over moderately high heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a spice grinder and let cool completely. Coarsely grind.

Using poultry shears, remove the backbones and wingtips from the hens and reserve for another use. Remove the legs and separate them into drumsticks and thighs. Remove the whole breasts on the bone and split each breast down the center. (A butcher can do this for you.)

Season the hen pieces with salt and black pepper. In a large pot, heat the oil until shimmering. Add half of the hen pieces and cook over high heat, turning once, until browned, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining hen pieces.

Add the chiles, shallots, garlic, ginger, lemongrass and turmeric to the pot and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 minute. Add the water and kohlrabi. Return the browned hen pieces to the pot and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until the breast meat is just cooked through, 15 minutes. Transfer the breast pieces to a plate and cover. Simmer the stew until the legs and thighs are just cooked through, 10 minutes longer.

Return the breast pieces to the stew and reheat. Stir in the ground green peppercorns, fish sauce, scallions, lime zest and cilantro. Ladle the stew into bowls and serve. Serve with steamed rice.

Serves 6.

Recipe by Su-Mei Yu,