When I think of Cornish Game Hens, it brings back memories of my mother having a dinner party in the 70s, and serving them with a broccoli casserole side dish and a molded jello dessert with fruit on the bottom. Let’s not forget the frozen blender drinks – I recall something called a Blue Whale and a Mint Grasshopper. Apparently, it was neat to give everyone their own Cornish game hen and let them wrestle with it on their plate, chasing it around with a fork and knife.
Fast forward many years and Cornish hens may be making a comeback. However, now we politely carve them and serve them on a platter, allowing guests to keep their dignity in the dining room.
A Cornish game hen is a young chicken (less than five weeks old), weighing under two pounds, and is often the hybrid of a Cornish chicken crossed with another breed of chicken. It can be either male or female, despite being called a hen (wikipedia.com). So, now you know!
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp. ground cumin
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 Cornish game hens (about 1 3/4 pounds each)
3 tsp. olive oil
1 1/2 pounds carrots, cut into 2-inch lengths
1 medium red onion, quartered
4 garlic cloves, peeled
6 sprigs fresh thyme
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
kitchen twine (no, not to eat! for trussing the chicken)
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Stir together maple syrup and cumin; season with salt and pepper.
- Using kitchen twine, tie hen legs together, then tuck wing tips underneath.
- Place hens on a rimmed baking sheet and rub with 1 teaspoon oil; season with salt and pepper.
- Roast 10 minutes.
- Remove sheet from oven and add carrots, onion, garlic, and thyme.
- Toss vegetables with 2 teaspoons oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Roast 20 minutes.
- Brush hens with maple mixture.
- Continue to roast, brushing twice more, until juices run clear when hens are pierced between breast and leg or an instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part of a thigh (avoiding bone) registers 165 degrees, about 15 minutes.
- Transfer hens to a cutting board and let rest 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, toss vegetables with lemon juice.
- Carve hens and serve with vegetables.
Food Mingle Blog Alternative and Substitutions:
- This recipe needs potatoes! Where oh where are the potatoes? Next time, I will add less carrots and add potatoes and maybe some celery too.
- The quartered onion seemed too big. Next time I would rough chop it, so that it still holds up to the heat, but it small enough to easily eat.
- These hens were quite tasty, but honestly, I think it’s the idea of cooking a hen that I like more than actually carving and eating it. It’s a lot of effort for not that much return – at least with a chicken, you get more meat. However, for a fancy version of chicken, go for it!
Yield: 2 hens
Source: http://www.marthastewart.com – Everyday Food, September 2009 , and wikipedia.com