Bruce's Blog

a handful of dimes and a jukebox


I was surprised to read in Wikipedia that a Cornish game hen, aka Cornish hen, aka poussin, aka Rock Cornish hen aka Rock Cornish — is not really a game bird, but actually a typical chicken that is slaughtered at a young age.  In fact, even though it’s called a hen, it can be either male or female.

But sad as that may be, Ralphs’ had a great sale on a pair of Cornish hens and I decided to get them.  I was thinking first of cooking them with a recipe from my Korean cookbook, but I didn’t have all the stuff I’d need, and didn’t feel like going to two different stores to get everything.

I was also considering a “salt crust” recipe from the classic “The Key to Chinese Cooking” by Irene Kuo.  If you aren’t familiar with this book, it’s to Chinese cooking in America what “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” was to French cooking in America.  Unfortunately, it’s been out of print for a while, but I got a great copy on Ebay for pretty cheap.

But eventually I decided against the “salt crust” recipe.  The “Salt Crust” technique is where you take a bunch of salt (Duh!) and pack it around something and cook it.  The salt forms a crust around the food and all the flavor stays inside.  The down-side is that you don’t get a nice crispy skin, which I really do love.  Kuo wisely advises, unlike any other salt crust recipe I’ve seen,  that you to wrap cheesecloth around the chicken before you encase it in salt, making it much easier to remove the crust and the skin isn’t overloaded with salty taste.  My main reason for not doing it?  I don’t know, just didn’t feel like going out to the store again.

So I eventually settled on a recipe which was based on something I found on the ‘net.  I put a branch of fresh rosemary and a half lemon in each bird.  Living in LA, rosemary grows all year round, and in fact, the rosemary bush can get really huge if I’m not using much of it.   I seasoned the birds with salt, pepper & thyme and put a little olive oil on them.  I peeled about 15 cloves of garlic (have I mentioned that I really like garlic?) and put them in the pan and drizzled olive oil on them as well.    I cooked that in a 450 degree oven for about 25 minutes, and then took them out.  I turned the oven down to 350 and poured 1/3 cup white wine and 1/3 cup chicken stock over them, put them back in the oven and basted them with it a couple of times during the rest of the cooking.

I forgot to mention that when I put the birds in, I also put in some sliced carrot, fingerling potatoes and small onions in another pan with olive oil & seasonings.  They roasted nicely for the same amount of time as the birds.

The birds cooked for another 25 minutes and then I pulled them out to rest.  I emptied all the juice from the birds into the pan and heated the pan on the stove top to reduce the pan liquids.  I love roasting in a big cast iron skillet, because it makes it SOOOO easy to take whatever I’ve been roasting and make a gravy or whatever.  Just a little white wine or stock to degrease it, a few spices, and pretty soon, you’ve got an amazing sauce.

The cloves were nicely roasted and still whole.  Fortunately, both my wife and I really like garlic.  The roasted garlic was great mashed up with the other roasted veggies.

It was incredibly easy to make and tasted great.

Categories: Cooking

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