Though the disco ball drops in January, the shofar blows in September, marking the beginning of the new year for Jewish communities across the globe. Observed as one of the holiest days of the year, Rosh Hashanah is a special two-day celebration of what's to come.
Like the ceremonial blowing of the shofar (a ram's horn), the holiday is marked by many traditions such as candle-lighting, special greetings and prayers, and foods and dishes that hold special meaning for the coming year.
And since we are The Culinary Institute of America — where food is life — we're here with a new family-favorite recipe to ring in the new year, with some special ingredients that help set the tone for happy and healthy months ahead.
Honey-glazed Cornish hens with sauteed cabbage and baked apples is a fresh take on foods commonly found on your Rosh Hashanah table. The honey infuses sweetness into the new year and, paired with savory schmaltz, adds a sticky glaze atop the crisp poultry skin. Served alongside sweet, baked apples — another holiday table tradition — and tender cabbage, this meal is sure to start your family's year off with lots of luck and a full belly.
Schmaltz, which is simply rendered chicken fat, is a common ingredient in traditional Jewish cooking as a substitute for dairy-filled butter. Though it can be found in the kitchens of grandmothers the world over, schmaltz is gaining in popularity for its savory flavor among those who eschew dairy products.
Schmaltz can be purchased in some specialty markets, but it's a cinch to prepare with ingredients you may already have. In fact, you've likely made it before and just discarded it! (A tragedy.) One common way to "make" schmaltz is to slowly render chicken skin over low heat until it gives up its clear fat — the schmaltz. Another option is to skim the bright yellow fat from the top of homemade chicken stock_also schmaltz! When hot it is a liquid, but stored in the refrigerator, the fat will become solid and scoopable. Every time you use it in place of butter or oil, your house will smell like chicken soup.
We've used Cornish game hens for this recipe, because they are perfect for individual servings at a holiday dinner. But this glaze will work perfectly with whatever poultry you prefer, like roasting chickens, turkey, or even duck. Of course, the cooking times will vary, so just roast the meat as you would normally, adding the glaze for the last 5 or 10 minutes. You can drizzle some of the leftover glaze over a platter of sliced meat, if you like.
Roasted meats and baked apples make the perfect sweet and savory combination. You'll want to choose apples that stand up well to baking, like Cortland, Golden Delicious, Jonagold and Granny Smith. Granny Smith is a great choice for this recipe, since it's a little tart, which will help balance out the sweetness of the honey-glazed hens. Of course, you want your new year to be sweet, not sour, so choose wisely.
Honey-glazed cornish hens
Start to finish: 1 hour 20 minutes (Active time: 30 minutes)
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons rendered chicken fat (schmaltz) or extra-virgin olive oil, divided use
1/2 cup honey
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
8 Cornish hens or 2 roasting chickens (about 4 pounds each)
Kosher salt, to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 F. In a small saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the chicken fat with the honey and pepper. Remove the glaze from the heat and set aside.
Divide the onions among the bottom of two large baking dishes or roasting pans. Rub the hens all over with the remaining chicken fat, then season all over with salt. Place the hens on top of the onions (four in each pan; they should not be crowded), using roasting racks if desired. Roast the hens until they are golden brown and just about cooked through, about 25 minutes.
Remove from the oven and brush each hen with the reserved honey glaze. Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees F and bake the hens until the chickens are deeply browned and the juices from the hens run clear, an additional 5 minutes.
Set aside to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
1 bunch scallions
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 pound Savoy cabbage, cored and thinly sliced (about 8 cups)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup water
Chop scallions, reserving white and dark green parts separately.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the scallion whites and garlic and cook until fragrant and lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add the cabbage, salt, and pepper and saute until the cabbage begins to release its juices, about 1 minute. Add water and cover, and cook until the cabbage is wilted, about 3 minutes. Add the remaining scallion and cook, uncovered, until the water has evaporated and the cabbage is tender, about 2 more minutes.
1/2 cup coconut oil or dairy-free butter substitute, melted
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup raisins
4 baking apples
Preheat the oven to 350 F. In a small bowl, combine coconut oil, sugar, and raisins, and set aside.
Core the apples. Slice the top off each apple, approximately ¼-inch from the top, and, using an apple-corer, small knife, or spoon, gently hollow the two apples. Be sure to leave about a 1/2-inch-thick shell.
Fill the hollowed apples with the sugar mixture. Place stuffed apples in a greased baking dish and bake until the apples are slightly browned, tender, and cooked throughout, about 25 minutes. Spoon the liquid at the bottom of the pan over the apples before serving.