by John Manikowski
This meal is simple and tasty but don't let anyone raze you about the appearance of the hens after you have stuffed the mango and scallion under the skin. It appears unnatural, lumpy and a little bizarre but the results are worth it.
Serve with mashed potatoes and with endive, split in half, roasted with olive oil, garlic and thyme.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Peel the mango, cut the flesh off the seed and slice into 1/4-inch pieces. Set aside. Wash the birds thoroughly inside and out and pat dry. Sprinkle some of the salt and pepper inside the cavities. Pull away the skin of the bird by carefully inserting a finger under the skin at the neck, creating a space between the breast meat and the skin. Do the same on the other end, below the ribs. with a sharp knife make 2-3 slits in the skin and flesh of both legs on all sides. Insert some of the mango slices, scallions and garlic under the skin in both the breast areas and in the slits in the legs. Stuff the remainder inside the cavities.
Place birds in a large roasting pan, pour some of the olive oil inside the cavities and drizzle the rest over the birds. Sprinkle with parsley and remaining salt and pepper.
Cover and roast in the oven for about 45 minutes. Remove cover, baste and continue roasting for about another 1/2 hour or until an internal thermometer registers 165-170 degrees F. (If using grouse or especially pigeon, the total roasting time will be less.)
To make a sauce from the drippings: Remove the birds from the pan and set aside. Drain off any fat from the baking pan and add the vermouth. On top of the stove, simmer over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, scraping together all the browned pieces from the bottom of the pan. Reserve.
Split birds in half, serving one-half (or 1 whole pigeon) per person and ladle some juice over each portion of meat before serving.
A Rioja by Marques de Marrieta Ygay, Reserva. This earthy wine has spicy, berry flavors with a hint of cinnamon. This is a refreshing wine, balanced nicely with the juices created by the mango, scallions and garlic.
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