"It tastes like chicken." I know. I know. That's what everyone says about every kind of unusual meat from squirrel to rabbit. But the fact is that Cornish game hens have a really unique taste and texture-and they're easier to make than most people think, especially in Chef Jeannette's simple and delicious recipe.
Cornish game hens aren't actually "game" birds at all-they're hybrid broiler chickens bred specifically to develop a small juicy bird perfect for single servings. (The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines the Cornish game hen as a "young immature chicken, less than five weeks of age, weighing not more than two pounds ready-to-cook weight.") And though we call them "hens," they can be male or female.
But don't think of these birds as just another chicken. They're much easier to roast evenly than chicken or turkey because of their small size, and their meat is succulent, tender, juicy, flavorful-and nutritious.
A 3.5-oz. serving contains about 23 grams of protein, a host of B-vitamins, and minerals including selenium and zinc. Enjoy!
Festive Game Hens with Seasonal Roots
This delicious dish highlights sweet root vegetables seasoned with holiday spices and richly roasted in butter, which is making a well-deserved comeback after a recent study in the Annals of Internal Medicine absolved saturated fat of any role in heart disease.
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 parsnips, peeled and diced
2 tsp. plus 3 Tbs. pastured butter, softened
1 tsp. palm sugar (or brown sugar)
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. salt, plus more to taste
1½-inch chunk peeled fresh ginger root, finely minced
1½ Tbs. ground garam masala
2 tsp. palm sugar (or brown sugar)
4 Cornish game hens (about 2 lbs. each)
black pepper, to taste
4 small shallots, peeled and halved
1 clementine, peeled and quartered
- Preheat oven to 375°F. In large bowl, combine sweet potato, carrots, parsnips, 2 tsp. butter, palm sugar, cinnamon, and ½ tsp. salt, and toss well to evenly coat. Transfer to large roasting pan, and arrange in an even layer. Place rack over vegetables, and set aside.
- In small bowl, combine 3 Tbs. butter, ginger, garam masala, and palm sugar. Mix well and set aside.
- Pat game hens very dry and season to taste with salt and pepper, including inside cavities. Place 2 shallot halves and 1 clementine quarter inside each cavity. Rub equal parts butter/spice mixture all over skin.
- Arrange hens on rack over vegetables. Roast 45-55 minutes until juices run clear when thighs are pierced, and skins are lightly browned.
per serving: 1308 cal; 98g pro; 89g total fat (28g sat fat); 25g carb; 590mg chol; 607mg sod; 6g fiber; 10g sugars