Showing posts with label cornish game hen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cornish game hen. Show all posts

Friday, June 7, 2013

Irish Game Hen

by Sheila Connolly

The itinerary has me in Dublin today, assuming I survived the whirlwind tour of northern Italy.  If I were smart I would be sending you up-to-the-minute iPad shots of pubs and markets and the like, but getting a tablet has been on my to-do list for a while. Next trip! (And I reserve the right to post a slew of pictures of this fabulous cookware store I've found in Dublin after I get back.)

So I went hunting for an Irish recipe anyway.  I've collected a range of Irish cookbooks by now, both high end and simple. Yes, there is a lot of cabbage and potatoes involved, but the food has improved by leaps and bounds over the past decade.  I was looking for something "nice" and I stumbled over a recipe for Pheasant with Mustard Sauce.

I'm a little short on pheasant.  I've never cooked one, although I have eaten it once or twice.  I once even saw a country pub in England where it was on the menu.  But I can improvise.  Pheasant is a game bird, so duck would be a good substitute.  But I've done duck here before, so I've defaulted to game hen (which has a more delicate flavor, so I've lightened up the sauce just a bit).  Chicken thighs and legs would do as well.

It really was the sauce I was interested in.  It consists of stock, red wine, port, whole-grain mustard, and cream. 

Cornish Game Hen with Mustard Sauce

Split two game hens.  A two-pound hen will serve two people easily, but if they're smaller you might want to plan on one hen per person.

Salt and pepper the pieces.  Saute the halves in a mixture of butter and oil over medium-high heat (I happened to have some duck fat, so I used that instead of butter), then reduce the heat, cover, and cook until done (and the thigh juices run clear).


1 cup chicken stock
1 cup red wine*
2 Tblsp dry sherry
2-4 Tblsp whole-grain mustard
1 cup light cream
Salt and pepper if needed (will depend on the 
   saltiness of the stock)

*Note:  choose a dry but full-bodied wine

Put the stock, wine and sherry in a saucepan and boil until reduced by half.  Stir in the mustard and the cream and continue to reduce until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.

Shred a small head of Savoy cabbage (the crinkly kind) and boil until just cooked.  Drain and toss with butter.

Make a "nest" of the cabbage on each plate and lay the game hen portion on top.  Spoon some sauce over each piece.

Serve with boiled or mashed potatoes (hey, it's Irish!)

The fourth book in my Museum Mystery series was released earlier this week.

If you know Philadelphia at all, the large building is meant to be the Art Museum, with the Schuylkill River running by on the right.  What you don't see is the Water Works, down by the water, where I set an important chapter in the book. 

There happens to be a great restaurant in the Water Works (I had to do the research, didn't I?)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Cornish Game Hen

by Sheila Connolly
You do know that's just a fancy name for a chicken, right? And it's not even always a female chicken.  The USDA describes it as "a young immature chicken (less than five weeks of age), weighing not more than two pounds ready-to-cook weight." It is descended from the Cornish breed of chicken and some other unspecified breed (tell me the last time your supermarket included the breed of chicken on their label).  It grows fast.  And markets charge more for it than for its full-grown relatives which took longer to raise.  Go figure.  It's all in the marketing.


But there are those of us here who are empty-nesters, and cooking a whole chicken means eating chicken three times in a week (and it's never quite the same after you've frozen it).  Don't get me wrong—I love to cook chicken, and I love having the leftover meat handy because it's so versatile.  But sometimes you want small and simple, and obviously a two-pound birdie is going to cook quickly, which makes it a fast and easy meal for two. A two-pound game hen works well for two adults with normal appetites, even with a little help from the cats.

That's a two-pound bird
You can do anything with your tiny chicken that you can do with a bigger one—just faster.  It's interesting how many recipes for this critter call for lemon juice or vinegar, and often lemon peel.  Here's a slightly lemony version that includes tarragon.




One 2-pound Cornish Game Hen

½ stick (1/4 pound) unsalted butter, softened (not melted)

2 Tblsp finely chopped shallot

1 Tblsp grated lemon zest

1 Tblsp chopped fresh tarragon (you can substitute dried)

½ tsp salt

Black pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees


Rinse the hen, split it, and remove the backbone with shears.


In a bowl, mix together the butter, shallot, lemon zest, tarragon, salt and pepper (I've found that wearing latex gloves helps—then you can just massage the mixture over your bird).


Rub the butter mixture on both sides of your hen pieces, and place in a shallow baking pan.  Sprinkle a little more salt and pepper over the top.


Roast in the middle of the preheated oven until the hen is cooked through and the skin is a golden brown—it should take about 30 minutes.


Feel free to experiment with other herbs and spices!

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