Mama's Orange Glazed Cornish Game Hens
Source of Recipe
From "Bon Appétit, Y'all" by Virginia Willis
"Cornish game hens (or Rock Cornish hens) are not as large as a chicken, yet larger than a quail. The French call them poussins, and they are essentially baby chickens. Mama has always cooked game hens for semi-special occasions since we all love them. They are great for a dinner party, too. Plan ahead, however; many grocery stores only sell them frozen. The safest way to defrost meat is in the refrigerator overnight or in the sink under cold running water. Bacteria thrive when food is between 41° and 140° F. So, you can imagine how appalled I am recalling how my mother, not knowing any better at the time, would defrost these hens, as well as chicken and hamburger meat, on the windowsill in the bright sunshine. It is amazing we never got sick (she knows better, now). Or maybe the early exposure just built up our resistance to food-borne bacteria."
List of Ingredients
◦ ¼ cup chopped mixed fresh herbs (such as chives, parsley, and thyme)
◦ 3 shallots, very finely chopped
◦ Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
◦ ¼ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
◦ Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
◦ 2 Cornish game hens (about 1 ½ pounds each), spatchcocked (see below)
◦ ¼ cup dry sherry or white wine
◦ 1 cup chicken stock or low-fat, reduced sodium chicken broth
Preheat the oven to 450° F. Combine the herbs, shallots, orange zest, and butter in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine. Loosen the skins of the hens without tearing by running your fingers between the skin and flesh of the breast. Place a little of the herb butter under the skin of each bird and spread evenly. Season the hens with salt and pepper, then rub the skin with the remaining herb butter. Place the hens, skin side up, in a large roasting pan.
Roast until the birds are golden brown and the juices run clear, about 30 minutes. Transfer the hens to a large warm platter and tent loosely with aluminum foil to keep them warm.
Place the roasting pan on the cooktop over medium heat. Add the sherry to deglaze the pan and loosen the brown bits on the bottom. Add the chicken stock and orange juice. Bring to a boil, scraping up the browned bits. Cook until reduced and slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Spoon the sauce over the hens to serve.
Serves 4 to 6
To spatchcock a Cornish game hen or other small bird, place the bird on a clean cutting board, breast side down. Using poultry shears, make a lengthwise cut on both sides of the backbone from neck to tail. Remove the backbone and save it for stock. Open the bird like a book. Proceed with the recipe. For an especially flat bird, place the bird on a baking sheet, top with a second baking sheet, and weight it down in the refrigerator with a brick or several large cans of tomatoes for several hours or overnight.