Cornish game hens are the veal of the poultry world, very young and tender. But before you find a pedestal for the Cornish game hen recipe you should know something: They're not game birds and they don't even have to be hens. Rather, they are petite, single-serving size chickens. Bummer?
Rock Cornish hens, a cross between Cornish and White Rock varieties, are bred for their bountiful, succulent breast meat. Stuffed with wild rice, mushrooms and almonds, and basted with red currant-Bourbon sauce, the birds and the recipe are pedestal-worthy after all.
7 cups water
1 cup wild rice, washed and drained
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup white rice, uncooked
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick) chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
1/3 cup slivered almonds
8 Rock Cornish game hens, 1-1/2 to 2 pounds each
1-1/2 cups melted butter, divided
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup Bourbon
1/2 cup red currant jelly
Bring the water and salt to a boil. Gradually stir in the wild rice. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the white rice and continue simmering until all the liquid is absorbed, about 30 minutes more. Stir in the butter, chopped onions, and slivered almonds. Cover again, turn off the heat, and let the stuffing stand for about 10 minutes.
Start preheating your oven to 425 degrees. Stuff the birds with the wild rice mixture and place them in shallow baking dish(es), leaving some room between them for browning. Brush with 1/2 cup of the melted butter, then season with salt and pepper.
Transfer the baking dishes to your preheated oven. Reduce the temperature to 375 degrees. After 20 minutes, mix the remaining butter, melted red currant jelly and Bourbon, and baste the hens with it. Roast, basting often, until golden brown and crispy, and the internal temperature (center of a thigh or breast) reaches 165 degrees, about 1 hour total roasting time.
Serves 8, one hen per grateful guest.
Chicken Salad Sandwiches (good for leftover chicken)