Today’s recipe is a simple one. Cornish game hens. Lovely little birds that kids just love. When my boys were little they would ask for the “personal sized chickens” they loved so much. This recipe is a direct rip off of drunken chicken by the way, just a slightly different preparation. Do it this way and the birds will come out crispy brown while the meat stays moist and tasty. Enough talk, let’s get going.
The first thing you are going to need is something to hold the hens upright, like a beer can does for drunk chicken. I’ve found that small ramekins work the best. I use these that I found at Cookware.com. A set of 4 is like $25 and you can use them for many other things. If you already have something similar, great. What you want is something that is oven safe, and the bird can sit on it, and keep his little legs off the pan. Okay? Any questions on this part, just send me a note.
Now, take your thawed out hens and rinse and dry them, inside and out. Salt and pepper the inside of the bird, and then place a wedge of lime in the cavity. Use a dry rub of equal parts salt, pepper, rubbed thyme, oregano and rosemary on the outside of the hen. Make sure you get all around the bird. Fill the ramekin with white wine and lemon juice, and place the hen on top, so that it looks like he’s sitting on a pail. Use a little patience here, you want to make sure that as the contents steam, they will bathe the hen inside and out. You also want to make sure he’s secure enough so he wont fall off the…um…pot.
Heat the oven to 375 f. Place the the little throned hens in a shallow baking dish just large enough to hold them. I wouldn’t try making more than 6 at a time in a single oven to be honest though. Okay, add some more white wine and water to the pan itself, but only to an inch or so in depth. Finally, take a spring of fresh rosemary and stick it in the top of each hen. As the dry rosemary heats up it will start to smoke and that smoke is what is going to turn these little hens into beauty queens.
You are going to want to cook these for about 60-90 minutes. All depends on how many and your oven. What you want to make sure of though is that the temp of the thigh meat is 180 f, and that the juices run clear when you check it. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, get one. Get one now. Not one of those silly BBQ fork things with idiot lights for rare, medium, etc. You want an honest to god chef’s meat thermometer. Later forever when taken care of, and you’ll wonder how you did without it. Okay, sale pitch mode off.
Now, when the hens are done, gently remove them from the ramekins, and place them on a towel, breast side up. While they cool a bit, prepare a plate. You can use whatever you want here, mashed potatoes and corn, green beans, you name it. If you really want to get fancy you could also create a glaze, sky’s the limit on this one.
Okay, there you go. Just an idea on how to prepare a cornish game hen. The rest is up to you.