Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Roasted Cornish Hens

This blog has been a little heavy on the fish recipes lately. You'd think we were all Pisces for goodness sake! But I guess it's the time of year where we crave lighter fare and also have the tendency to put everything on the grill. And why not? We're under six feet of snow for half the year. But you can't eat grilled food everday for the carcinogens it gives off. And plus you get tired of it. For me, grilled food is such a magnificent burst of flavour. Nothing is more delicious than the first bite of the first cheeseburger of summer! But by the middle of August, I'm so sick of barbequed anything that I can't wait to make my first big pot of chili and throw on a football jersey.
So I like to keep a balance between grilled food and oven baked. But I certainly don't want to make anything slow roasted so as to have the oven going all afternoon heating up the house. And that's why I enjoy a roasted cornish hen when I have barbeque burnout. They're easy, fast and delicious. Back when I started making this recipe, cornish hens were cheap as dirt because nobody knew what they really were or how to cook them. Now they fall into the special treat category because they're considered gourmet fare. But to me, they're just fowl and I treat them like a chicken in that way. Except that you'll blow the socks off your guests because everybody gets their own and they smell amazing during the cooking process. So keep an eye out for a sale and stock up and keep them in the freezer. If you get larger sized hens, you can chop them in half, but I like the smaller ones so everybody gets their own bird. Serve these with any vegetable you like. I like roasted butternut squash in the fall and asparagus or baby carrots in the spring. The one side you Must have is long grain rice. Buy the good Uncle Ben's wild and long grain package. Why would you spend the money on the birds and then serve cheap and crappy rice? And remember that you're worth it!
You need to make a glaze too which is just a half a small jar of red currant jelly and a squirt of honey.
So thaw out your hens, one per person. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Rinse out the cavity and put a few smashed up cloves inside each one. And also salt and pepper. Then place them all in a roasting pan with a rack. Season each one with salt and pepper and just a little bit of nutmeg and cinnamon. And put a little pat of butter on each one too. Put them in the oven and roast for about an hour. Put a lid or a tin foil cover on for the first half hour, then remove it. Baste them as you go, about every 15 minutes after you take the cover off.
Now make your glaze. Just melt 1/2 a small jar of red currant jelly with a squirt of honey on low to med heat on the stove. Whisk it until it comes to a boil and then remove from the heat. Using a brush, baste each hen with the glaze and do this a few times until your rice is cooked. Follow the package directions for the rice. You should make it about 1/2 an hour before your hens are done. Also prepare your vegetables to coincide with the timing of the hens.
After an hour and a half, remove your hens and let them sit out the last step. Pour your pan drippings into your glaze and bring it back up to the boil and let it reduce by half. Spread your rice out on a platter and rest your hens on top of the rice. Now pour your reduced glazed all over the hens and serve it up. Or you can plate each one individually with a portion of rice and a bird. Make it nice and set the hen on the rice like a bird in its nest and pour some glaze over it. Add your vegetables to the plate and Voila! Be prepared for your guests to swoon because they will have never seen or tasted anything so amazing! And if you really want to blow them away, serve the Grand Marnier cheesecake for dessert. This is one of my recipes that I call Smoke and Mirrors because it is so impressive and yet so easy to prepare! Try it out.

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