Let’s Dish Let’s Talk About Cornish Hens!

Let’s Dish Let’s Talk About Cornish Hens!

Let’s Dish Let’s Talk About Cornish Hens!

When in a “fowl” mood and unable to decide between dining on the darker meat or the breast of a chicken, you can have yourself a Cornish hen and have it all! These delectable mini-chickens are truly a breed unto themselves. At  approximately one to two pounds of meat or less per hen, they are smaller than the average poultry. This tiny bird is a descendant of Corn-wall, England, but became popular in the United States in the 1950s when breeders Alphonsine and Jacques Makowsky of Connecticut worked on developing a smaller breed chicken. The breeders wished to raise a single-serve chicken with mostly white meat. However, chicken mogul Donald Tyson worked on cross-breeding White Rock hens with Cornish hens during the 1960s and called his chicken Rock Cornish hens. Tyson desired to create a more specialty-type item with a higher price to appeal to the “food-aware” or foodie-type consumer. Somewhat higher priced than average chickens, Cornish hens are often reserved as a special occasion food. They make a beautifully impressive presentation for any holiday, but you can enjoy them anytime. While the word “hen” is used to describe this poultry, the brown bird can be a male or female. Both the male and female have short legs and broad breasts, giving way to a mostly white-meat entree. Succulent and tender, these birds do not live past five weeks old. They are crossed with the fast-growing Rock breed and mature sooner than standard chickens. Fed a diet of mostly protein, Cornish hens might taste a bit stron-ger or gamier than chicken (but they still taste like chicken!) They are a good alternative to quail or squab with a milder flavor. Cornish hens are almost always roasted and presented whole. Tender and juicy, they typically roast in under an hour. When stuffed, you can serve them as a complete mini-meal — no pun intended — but you must allow for longer cooking time. Prepare them with a stuffing mix of rice to allow the juices of the bird to mix with the stuffing for an out-of-this-world delectable dinner. Usually, it is necessary to eat a Cornish hen with your hands. There are many small bones to contend with, and you don’t want to discard any of the meat stuck on the bones. Today, Cornish hens are more popular than ever, and Tyson Foods is responsible for about 2/3 of the hens we find on the  market. You can find them fresh or frozen in your local grocery store. Enjoy the Recipe of the Month; it’s easy, but you can jazz it up by adding diced veggies of your choice to the stuffing mixture. Add a side of some greens, present your hens on a bed of rice that is equivalent to the stuffing mixture, and dinner is served.

Ingredients & Directions

2 Cornish game hens, cleaned

3 oz. of long grain wild rice mix¼ cup chopped celery

2 oz. can chopped or sliced mushrooms, drained

1 tablespoon butter1 ½ teaspoon soy sauce

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2) Cook rice according to package directions.

3) Melt butter in microwave and add to rice mixture. Add chopped celery, mushrooms, and soy sauce. Toss mixture to blend.

4) Stuff Cornish hens with finished rice mixture. Place hens in roasting pan and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Place pan in oven and cook for 30 minutes. Then remove foil from pan and cook hens one additional hour.

5) You can baste with butter 30 minutes prior to removing hens from the oven. The birds are ready to eat when the internal temperature reaches 170 degrees.