Known to her family and friends as Te, Alphonsine Davalis was born in the small farming hamlet of Trois Veveres, France. She lived a fascinating life, moving to Paris as a young teenager, later fleeing the Nazi regime, establishing a chicken farm in Connecticut and coming up with the idea of producing a small, plump bird hailed by gourmets around the world.
Mrs. Makowsky, having grown up on a farm, drove the back roads of New England in search of land. She settled on nearly 200 acres in northeastern Connecticut, which her husband named Idle Wild Farm. The couple began raising and selling African guinea hens.
In October 1949, their flock was lost when a fire roared through the couple’s chicken houses. Although production was halted, the Makowskys promised their customers that they would soon continue with deliveries.
The Makowskys began cross-breeding the Cornish game cocks with various chickens and game birds, including a White Plymouth Rock hen and a Malayn fighting cock, to develop the Rock Cornish game hen — a succulent bird with all-white meat, large enough for a single serving.
Using methods and flavors described by Sally Fallon and Judy Rodgers, here, then is Te’s chicken, roasted with herbs and served with a smashed grape demi glace and tarragon stuffing.
Rinse birds thoroughly inside and out and pat completely dry. Insert fresh herbs of your choice into the pockets between the skin and breast, then season liberally with sea salt and cracked black pepper. Cover loosely and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Preheat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Place bird(s) in the skillet, breast side up. It should sizzle. Roast birds for 15 minutes, remove from oven, flip breast side down and roast another 10 minutes. Flip one more time and roast another 5 minutes to crisp the skin. Transfer to cutting board to rest.
Deglaze the skillet with white wine then scrape up all the brown bits. Add a little stock and reduce until sauce just coats the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes. Add halved seedless black grapes and simmer 5 minutes. Smash the grapes with a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon. Finish with a spoonful of demi glace.
Split birds and serve with tarragon bread stuffing and smashed grape demi glace.
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