Cooking cornish hens can be a challenge if you don’t have the right seasoning blend. Cornish hens are miniature chickens usually weighing not more than 2 pounds. Although small, they are often priced higher than chickens. Because hens are highly-priced, people often reserve them for special dinner parties or special gatherings.
How to handle a Cornish Hen also called Rock Hen
Handling a cornish hen is similar to handling a chicken. There’s no difference between cleaning and prepping. The packaging might be different. Cornish hends are mostly sold whole and therefore need time to defrost.
Defrosting any whole bird requires some advanced preparation. It is better to keep the bird in its packaging while it is defrosting. The packaging will catch any excess water while sitting in the sink.
When opening the packaging, I usually place a cornish hen in a large bowl in the sink to avoid contamination. I also rinse the bird before prepping in lemon water. This is something we do in my culture. We clean meat, poultry, and seafood with lemon or vinegar. It’s a thing we do!
To avoid any cross-contamination with meat, poultry, or seafood, it is recommended to wash your hands, cutting boards, and knives with warm, soapy water after handling. I usually spray the sink and any tools used with vinegar before cleaning them. It is just taking extra precautions!
How to cook cornish hens
Cooking cornish hens is easy. Many people love to cook them whole. But did you know that you could cut them like you’re cutting a regular size chicken? Yes, you can! Did you know that you could use only one cornish hen to prepare dinner for a family of four? Yes, you can! The trick is to find a large bird and add other ingredients such as potatoes or vegetables to the dish. The result is a complete and satisfying dinner.
Cornish hens can be cooked in many ways, roasted whole or cut-up, fried, barbecued, and in stews or a simple Creole sauce.
Let’s talk about spices and marinades
Cornish hens need spices, and not just salt and pepper. The flavor and meat of a Cornish hen tend to be mild and more tender. With fewer calories and fat than their cousins, it is no wonder that people sometimes want their bird to enjoy.
Rosemary, sage, tarragon are just a few herbs that add tons of flavor to cornish hens. A marinade containing these herbs and spices such as black pepper, ground cloves, ground cumin, or ground toasted fennel is sure to make any dish taste delicious. And let’s not forget the mighty and botanically classified as a vegetable, the garlic. We all know that garlic adds flavor to anything. So, don’t forget to chop a couple of garlic cloves!
What other ingredients can you add to spice up a cornish hen?
During the Christmas season and New Year’s, a cornish hen recipe is not uncommon to find on the dinner table instead of a roasted turkey. Always looking tasty and flavorful, sometimes dressed with pomegranate seeds, fresh herbs, peaches, or orange slices, makes a table look more festive. Here are a few ways you can add more flavor to your dish.
- Pomegranate Glaze
- Peach Glaze
- Cherry Glaze
- Orange Glaze
- Cranberry Glaze
- Orange Marmelade
- Apricot Glaze
You can also stuff the bird with a variety of well-spiced grains for healthier options.