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~ Easy Barbecue-Glazed Rock Cornish Game Hen ~

IMG_6305Do you love slightly-sticky, finger-licking good barbecued chicken but find it a kinda unruly mess to serve?  I know I find it a kinda unruly mess to serve.  When I make it outdoors on the grill, cleaning the sticky grill grids is a task I can live without.  Plus, there doesn't seem to be a way to please everyone's preference for breast-, thigh-, leg- or wing- meat without overbuying.  Then, one day, I got it in my head make barbecued chicken indoors using the Rock Cornish game hen, instead of chicken parts.  Who doesn't love a mini-chicken all to themself?  Everyone gets a little bit of everything in one (almost) mess-free, stress-free easy-to-serve portion!

6a0120a8551282970b02af148657e5200c-320wiThe Cornish game hen, also known as the Rock Cornish game hen, is the USDA's approved name for a particular variety of  broiler chicken. Connecticut farmers Jacques and Alphonsine Makowsky cross-bred the standard Cornish chicken with a White Plymouth Rock hen and a Malayan fighting cock in the 1950s. They were bred to mature quickly and develop a large breast and weigh no 2 pounds max uncooked (with the most common weight  about 1 1/4 pounds).

Istockphoto-606234472-612x612Despite the "game hen" in the name, the Cornish hen is not a game bird.  While the "hen" in the name implies a female bird, males and females are sold and served as Cornish hens, meaning, many aren't hens.  Once cooked, the Cornish hen is known for its tender meat which loves to absorb flavors from creative marinades or spice rubs.

The pianist and comedian, Victor Borge was an early investor and promoter of this single-serving bird, leveraging his popularity to transition the Cornish hen from an exotic item to a common household meal who's petite size and young age give it a unique flavor and succulent texture that bigger chickens simply do not have.  That said, it's as versatile as a regular-sized chicken, so, any recipe for any chicken is easily adapted to the mini-chicken (which will cook more quickly, in approximately 1 hour depending on the recipe ).  The small size also makes it easier to achieve a crispy skin with perfectly-cooked meat simultaneously with no real need for basting.

IMG_6303Quick, easy, (almost) mess-free & completely stress-free:

IMG_62651-2 Cornish game hens, thawed and at room temperature

1/2  cup barbecue sauce, your favorite recipe or store-bought brand

freshly-ground sea salt and peppercorn blend (optional)

IMG_6200 IMG_6200 IMG_6200 IMG_6200~Step 1.  Remove hen(s) (cook as many as you want) from packaging and.  place on a rack in a shallow roasting pan that has been lined with aluminum foil.  Before deciding to season the hen(s) with salt and pepper, taste the barbecue sauce.  KC Masterpiece is nicely seasoned, so, I skip the salt and only season with pepper blend.  Roast on center rack of 400°-425° oven for 45 minutes.

IMG_6279 IMG_6279 IMG_6279~Step 2.  At the 45 minute mark, remove the hen(s) from the oven.  Working as quickly as possible, use a pastry brush to paint the entire surface of the hen(s) with barbecue sauce.  Return to oven and continue to roast 5 more minutes.  Repeat the basting process every 5 minutes until an instant-read meat thermometer, inserted into the thickert breast meat, reads 150°-155°, about 15-20 more minutes.   Remove glazed hens from oven, loosely tent with foil and allow to rest about 5-10 minutes prior to serving -- residual heat will finish-cook the chicken and allow the juices to redistribute.

Serve w/your favorite side(s) -- please pass the mac & cheese:

IMG_6297Easy Barbecue-Glazed Rock Cornish Game Hen: Recipe yields instruction to roast and glaze as many Cornish game hens as you want to.

Special Equipment List: appropriately-sized roasting pan; aluminum foil; roasting rack; small saucepan; pastry brush; intant-read meat thermometer

6a0120a8551282970b02af14a8c31d200bCook's Note:  Whether you are new to cooking and looking for something easy yet elegant to impress a small group of people with or a seasoned-pro looking for something easy yet elegant to impress a few quests with, you really should consider Cornish game hens.  There's more.  If you are a hungry single person in search of an easy, made-from-scratch entree, you really should consider a Cornish game hen. When I was a young chick (a new bride about 45 years ago), Cornish game hens were trendy and commonly served -- everyone, kids and adults alike, loves a succulent, personal-sized mini-chicken.  I served them frequently for years, and then, for reasons unknown to me, I kinda forgot about them.  No time like the present to correct my course. Be sure to read my post: ~ Elegantly Easy -- The Roasted Rock Cornish Game Hen ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2022) 


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