Contains: No major allergens. Is: Gluten-free, paleo.
This dinner came from a home-farmed chicken. This hen weighed 1.25 pounds, dressed. (By being “dressed”, this really means undressed of feathers, feet, and guts.) She wasn’t a full out Cornish Cross, but was sold as a day-old “Cornish Roaster” chick.
So, she and her chick-mates grew a LOT faster than my heritage laying breeds, but definitely slower than the true Cornish Crosses. She got to be on grass for a little while – not truly free range, but I moved her and her cohort once a day to a new patch of grass out back. I mean, once she was old enough to leave her brooder.
At 1.25 pounds, she’s “officially” at “game hen” size. Do note that a lot of the game hens you get to purchase at supermarkets are young male cockerels. The designation pertains to size, not to gender. And indeed, even the females are not officially hens, either – female chickens are “pullets” until they are mature enough to start laying eggs. THEN they are now hens.
I usually tie the drumsticks together for cooking but couldn’t find the twine. It is less critical for smaller hens.
The chicken is laid onto a rack so that all sides can crisp. I also put the breast side down in order to encourage it to be more tender and moist.
This recipe can be made more complex by stuffing the chicken. Of course, cooking time would increase, and measures need to be taken to keep the dark meat from drying out while cooking everything through.
Prep Time: 15 minutes.
Cook Time: 45 minutes – 90 minutes, depending on size, but a true Cornish Game Hen should be finished in 60 minutes.
Rest Time: 10-15 minutes.
Roast Cornish Game Hen
- 1 Cornish game hen, about 1 – 2 pounds / 450 – 900 grams.
- 1/4 of a lime in two slices.
- 1/4 of a lime’s juice.
- 2 teaspoons salted butter
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar reduction.
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.
- Other seasonings at your whim…
Preheat oven to 425 F / 220 C.
Remove any innards and save for other purposes. Pat dry the chicken.
Cut about two teaspoons salted butter into small pieces, and insert under the skin, especially under the bread skin. Rub a little of this into the cavity. Add two slices of lime into the cavity.
Rub the exterior with a mix of 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar reduction, 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder, and 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper. Dust with a little salt. You can add in other spices. If you want other herbs, I’d add them to the cavity, so they don’t burn in cooking.
Ideally, truss the drumsticks together with cloth twine (NOT plastic). The twine becomes more essential the larger your chicken is. Place on a rack in a roasting pan, breast down. The grate will help all sides of the chicken crisp up. Sprinkle the juice of about a quarter a lime over the top.
Place in oven and immediately reduce heat to 400 F / 200 C.
For a 1.25 pound / 570 gram bird, leave the chicken in at this temperature for 30 minutes. For larger than a pound and a half (680 grams), use 45 minutes.
Reduce oven temperature to 325 F / 165 C, and allow to cook 15 minutes longer for this size of chicken. For 1.75 pounds (800 grams) or larger – use 30 minutes more, instead. If your bird is nearing 3 pounds / 1350 grams in weight or more, leave the chicken in longer – up tp 45 minutes at this temperature. .(Of course, this is no longer Cornish Game Hen size….)
Internal temperature should be 160 F / 180 C when removed from the oven.
Remove and allow to rest, 10 -15 minutes. You can use drippings for gravy should you choose – I simply went “au jus” with this.
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