When I first told Joe that I was going to be making us Cornish hens, he literally laughed. I absolutely took it personally until I found out his family would have these baby hens every Christmas, and he was wondering what took me so long to make them.
In truth, it took my making my roast chicken (see recipe here) before I had the courage. These hens use the same flavors of my roast chicken and it was just as good. And just as easy.
I decided to pair the chicken with some snow peas and pistachios, starting the meal with a creamy corn soup. I used the Soup Maker mentioned in other soup posts but, this would be very simple with just an immersion blender or a food processor (locate under “soups” in menu).
You will need:
- Corn (I used sweet corn)
- Salt and pepper
- Ground nutmeg
- Baby yellow potatoes
- Cornish hen (I get the Perdue ones because they’re hormone free and come without the giblets)
- Sweet onion
- Dried rosemary
- Lemon (or lemon juice)
- Olive oil
- Snow peas
- Pistachios (or pine nuts if you prefer)
- Grated parmesan
I sliced the corn off the stalks into a shallow plate and then poured all of the kernels into the soup maker. I would have otherwise just put them into a pot to boil and then used an immersion blender or a standard food processor.
I then sliced the baby yellow potatoes into smaller pieces and threw them and some sliced sweet onion all in with the corn. I did about a quarter of the sweet onion. I didn’t need any broth – just water; the salt, pepper and other ingredients were perfect. The corn and potato starch made it very creamy and in the end, I added ground nutmeg to taste. You can cook that all down and then soften in batches in a food processor if you don’t have a soup machine.
The snow peas with pistachio were easy. Just trim the snow peas smaller if you like, and sauté them with olive oil, salt and pepper. Take a sandwich bag or some sheets of plastic wrap and hammer the pistachios smaller.
Let them all sauté together before finally adding your grated parmesan and leave it on low to stay warm while you make the Cornish hens.
I removed the bags holding the baby chickens over my sink as there was a small amount of fluid that came out. Pull the chickens from the pouch and wash them – inside and out. Trim off any portion you don’t like (I removed an extra bit of a bit of the top and bottom) and set them aside. Don’t throw away the bags as they will usually give recommendations for how long to cook them based on how much they weigh.
Take your orange and juice it into a bowl, add the same amount of lemon juice if you can. Cut the orange (and lemon if you got one instead of using purchased juice) and set them aside.
Cover the chickens with the juice on the underside, then add the salt, pepper and dried rosemary. Flip the chickens placing the pieces of orange underneath and do the same thing: topping first with the fresh juice and then the seasoning. Don’t forget the insides!
Make sure the little pieces of citrus rest under each bird. Get some aluminum foil (if you’d like to do this part, it helps keep the feet from burning) and wrap the little back legs.
Some recipes state to cook the chickens on 400 or even 450 for 20-25 minutes. I don’t trust that… I don’t know why. I preheated my oven for 350 and cooked these for 1 hr 20 mins. In the end, leaving them on 150 in the oven to stay warm.
They came out a pretty chestnut brown and the whole condo smelled like rosemary bread (oddly).
We had the soup first, which was a soft buttery yellow color with a nutmeg creamy feel – like fall should feel (even though we’re in FL). I plated with some cracked pepper on top.
Right before serving the Cornish hens, I removed the little tin foil booties and drizzled the chickens with olive oil. I plated by placing them over the veggies.
At 220 calories each, and loaded with protein, these are a perfect individual dinner. I don’t know what took me so long to make them but, I’m convinced more than ever how that rosemary and citrus recipe in my Roast Chicken post really works with any chicken. Large and small.
Below you will find the table setting for this meal: The bone china is from Royal Worcester and Rolland Green. The silverware is Napoleon Bee. The linens are Pier 1. The crystal is Waterford. The glassware is Riedel and Sur la Table. The silver is heirloom.