Saturday, September 11, 2010

Cornish Game Hens

While at the local butcher this morning I noticed fresh (not previously frozen) Cornish Hens, which is not all that common here (they are usually frozen.)  Following my own advice of making up menus based on what looks good at the shops, I selected two plump hens for dinner tonight.

Sometimes also called Rock Cornish Hens, these birds make a nice and somewhat elegant dinner.  Each person gets their own small bird, which is tender and juicy, and not difficult to prepare.  I find young people particularly enjoy them.  However they can take a bit of extra time to prepare if you would like to serve them stuffed, as I have done here.

As my husband is not particularly fond of bread dressing, I make a rice stuffing.  Shown here is a mixture of long-grain and wild rices (1 cup), which I sauteed in butter for about five minutes, before adding chicken stock (2 cups) and white wine (1/2 cup). I added some chopped carrots and I bring this to a boil, then cover and simmer for approximately 30 minutes.  You can also add some celery if you happen to have it on hand.  While this is cooking I chopped a green onion and thawed a half cup of peas which I  had leftover in the freezer.  When the rice is nearing the end of its cooking time, I add in the green onion and peas and let them warm in the rice for about five minutes.

Game hens, really just a small variety of chicken developed for this purpose (it's not really a game bird), you prepare them as you would any whole standard roasting chicken.  After washing and drying, I simply stuff them, truss them and butter them with soft butter.  Then I season and roast them for about 1 hour in a 350F (until the thickest part of the thigh is 180F).

Remove them from the oven and remove the trussing string and let rest for about 20 minutes.  In all, from beginning the stuffing preparation to table service, give yourself about 2 hours or a little longer.

A couple years ago Kevin and I rented a home on St. Croix, USVI for the Thanksgiving holiday.  As I did not want to prepare a full turkey for the two of us, I was fortunate to come across Cornish Hens.  While I didn't have any string to truss, they were very good and made for a special holiday dinner (last photo on right).  If you haven't prepared them before, give them a try.  They come out great from your oven or on your grill's rotisserie (unstuffed).  Bon Appétit!

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