Cornish game hen for tonight's dinner and I've never made one before... any suggestions on preparation??
Cornish game hen, also known as pouissin (or baby chicken): what I would do is to pick up some small lemons (like Meyer lemons), poke them with a fork and stuff them in the cavites---one per bird. Tie the legs closed with cooking string. Slide some herbs like maybe fresh sage leaves under the skin, or thyme. Rub the outside with oil and sea salt. Roast, at 400. Check the temperature of the bird with an instant read thermometer after 20 minutes.You want flesh to test at about 160. I think my pal, Donny G will agree with me here.
We love cornish hens! You can roast them like big chickens, just a shorter time, or you can half them and grill them or pan roast them flat ... that's one of our favorites. For pan roasting you season them and then sear them skin side down until brown in an oven safe pan, then finish in the oven at 350. I tend to splash a little wine in there at that point. If you want roasties alongside (taters and veggies) might want to start them sooner - again because of the abbreviated cook time.
Ooh thanks! Have either of you tried brining it first? I read somewhere that doing a brine prior to cooking works well?
I haven't - but I HAVE done whole chickens and skinless boneless chx breasts - you can quick brine in water, salt, sugar, and whatever spices (maybe lemon zest, thyme, peppercorns, like that) even just a couple hours in a brine makes a difference - you could do that and the Pierinos lemon stuffed roasting and it would be awesome!
This isn't the most healthy of suggestions but, you can fry them. Just cut them like you would a whole chicken then salt, flour and fry. I do this occasionally when we (2 people) want a bit of heritage cooking and a whole chicken is too much. A healthier way is to split them and grill with an apricot glaze.
I do brine my Cornish hens sometimes. I just fill a 3 quart pot with a 3/4 cup salt and 1/2 cup sugar and allow it to boil, then fill a large container with ice and dump in the brine. When the brine is cold, I add the hen and allow to sit in the brine for three to four hours. I pat dry the chicken and stuff a little compound butter (butter, salt, pepper, and minced garlic) under the skin. Roast in 400 degree F oven for 45 minutes, or until the thigh meat read 160 deg F. The brine makes it really moist and tender. Yum!
I'm a briner. Then I rinse and pat dry and split in half. Then I turn either turn them over to the grillmeister or heat up my cast iron skillet. Cook as described so well by other people, seasoning only with fresh ground pepper. When done, brush with a little mild vinegar and sprinkle with fresh herbs.
Julia Child has a super treatment for them that involves a sprinkle of cheese and time under the broiler. It's in Julia Child and More Company.