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Cornish game hen – six ways

Michele Borboa, MS is a freelance writer and editor specializing in health, fitness, food, lifestyle, and pets. Michele is a health and wellness expert, personal chef, cookbook author, and pet-lover based in Bozeman, Montana. She is also...

Small yet Succulent

Cornish game hen is one of the most succulent of birds to eat, particularly if you use your fingers to peel away the tender, flavorful meat from the bone. Being diminutive, Cornish game hen is also quite elegant to serve for a special occasion, yet it can also be quickly cooked on the grill for a casual weekend meal. Here are just a few delicious ways to prepare this small, yet delectable bird.

Cornish Game Hen

Grilled Cornish Game Hen

Serves 4With warmer weather arriving, this Cornish game hen on the grill is a must. Not only do you get the zesty flavor of the marinade in the meat, the lightly grill-charred skin adds a smoky taste and crisp texture. Be sure to give the hens time enough to marinate for all the flavors to develop.Ingredients:
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
4 teaspoons dried lemon thyme
Pinch of crushed red pepper or more to taste
4 small garlic cloves, minced or pressed
Zest (chopped) and juice from one orange
Zest (chopped) and juice from one lemon
1 tablespoon agave or honey
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 Cornish game hens, halved lengthwiseDirections:
1. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, mustard, thyme, red pepper, garlic, zest and juice from the orange and lemon, agave or honey, and salt and pepper. Place hen halves bone side down on a cutting board, cover with a sheet of plastic, and pound gently with the flat side of a mallet to slightly flatten.2. Rub hen halves with marinade and use your fingers to rub marinade under the skin, directly against the flesh (this helps infuse the finished hen with flavor). Place hens in a baking dish and set aside for 1 hour to marinate. You can also marinate them overnight in the refrigerator.3. Preheat grill to medium heat and rub grate with oil. Grill hens for 10 minutes, flip and grill for another 10 to 15 minutes or until cooked through and the skin is slightly charred. Transfer to a plate and tent with foil for 5 to 10 minutes to allow juices to redistribute. Serve warm with your favorite spring or summer vegetable side-dish and grilled garlic bread.

Sesame Ginger Cornish Game Hens

Serves 4An Asian-inspired marinade melding toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger and a bit of molasses creates a succulent hen that pairs well with stir-fried vegetables and rice.Ingredients:
Zest (chopped) and juice of an orange
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon minced fresh gingerroot
1 teaspoon molasses
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 small Cornish game hensDirections:
1. In a small bowl, whisk together orange zest and juice, sesame oil, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, molasses, cilantro and black pepper. Place hens in a small roasting pan. Pour marinade over hens and use your fingers to rub marinade underneath the skin and in the cavity of the hens. Set aside to marinate for 1 hour, turning and recoating hens every 20 minutes.2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cover roasting pan with aluminum foil and place in oven. Roast for 30 minutes, baste with pan juices, and place back in oven uncovered. Roast for another 15 minutes. Pierce a thigh to see if the juices run clear. If they do, hens are done. If not, baste again and place back in oven for another 15 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Be sure to pour pan juices over hen after plating.

Italian-style Cornish Game Hens

Serves 4Serve these flavorful birds with a light salad drizzled with a balsamic vinaigrette and a side of polenta or risotto.Ingredients:
4 small Cornish game hens
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 lemons, quartered
4 fresh rosemary sprigs
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 teaspoons dried oregano
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup chicken brothDirections:
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Season the outside and cavity of hens with salt and pepper. Place 2 wedges of lemon and 1 rosemary sprig inside cavity of each hen. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, oregano and garlic. Rub olive oil mixture on the outside and under the skin of each hen.2. Place hens in a roasting pan, breast side up, and cover with foil. Roast for 25 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F. and remove foil. Pour wine and broth over hens and roast for another 25 to 30 minutes or until cooked through, skin is crisp and juices run clear when a leg is pierced. Transfer hens to a serving platter, tent with foil and let sit while you make the sauce.3. Pour pan juices into a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and let reduce until juices thicken, about 5 minutes. Cut hens in half, if desired, and spoon sauce over before serving.

3 More Cornish game hen recipes

Apricot Glazed Cornish Game Hens
Wild Rice Stuffed Cornish Game Hens
Lemon Pepper Cornish Game Hens

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