The words thanksgiving and turkey are almost synonymous. Normally you don’t find one without the other, but personally I’m not a fan. This large bird needs the right amount of TLC to be delicious. My late grandma was one to apply that perfect amount of TLC to yield an awesome turkey and an even more awesome turkey salad in the days to follow. Now-a-days whenever we are in New York for thanksgiving, or when we have thanksgiving dinner in Jamaica (Jamaica?? Yes I know.. My mother just loves any excuse to set the table) we always do another type of roast poultry, out of sheer laziness and the plain fact that Jamaicans generally don’t like turkey. What better substitute than a Cornish hen.
This dish has me feeling all kinds of happy, here is why. Firstly I love Cornish hens, secondly I succeeded at deboning those little bad boys (thank you youtube), and thirdly I listened to that little chef on my shoulder and made a stock with the bones instead of using the store bought one in the pantry. I lost a good night’s sleep but it was well worth it.
From the paragraph before, you must have realized that this dish requires overnight work. Even if you don’t do Cornish hens, but do a chicken or turkey, they all need an overnight marinade or brine before the next day’s cooking can begin. The stock making and deboning are purely optional; however, I implore you to try it. I saw those good Cornish hen bones ready for the garbage and just thought it hard to throw them out. Not to mention how awesome it was to cut right through the bird to get to the stuffing with no bones in the way. Deboning truly is worth all the time spent, especially on such a small bird.
Now there is good news and bad news, depending on what you came to the post to see. If you saw Cornish hen and jumped for joy, then continue reading because the ingredients and steps are below. The bad news, if you came for the pumpkin rice stuffing, your three days too early, because that pot of awesomeness will be posted to the blog Friday. Remember, we have reached the main course in pumpkin month, you didn’t expect me to give you the protein and carb all in one post? No fear, Friday is just around the corner.
Ingredients (Printable Recipe)
Hen Marinade (marinate overnight)
4 Boneless Cornish hens
1 cup orange juice
3 oz Ginger
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 tbsp. soy sauce
2 ½ tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Black pepper
2 tsp. Onion powder
2 tsp. Garlic powder
1 tsp. Smoked paprika
1 tbls oil
Cornish hen drippings
3 tbsp flour
2 sprigs Thyme leaves
½ tsp. Lemon zest
1 tsp. Grated ginger
1 tsp. Sugar
½ tsp. Salt
Pumpkin sausage rice: click here
- Wash dry and debone the hens click here to see how to debone a Cornish hen
- Blend together orange juice, zest, ginger, soy sauce and oil in a blender
- Season the hens with the dry seasonings inside and out
- Pour wet ingredients over the chicken, seal in a container and leave over night
- The next morning, turn on oven to 450 degrees
- Remove the chickens from marinade and stuff each chicken with 1 cup of stuffing to get back its shape
- Use some kitchen twine and tie the drumsticks, use a toothpick to seal the rear end so the rice does not fall out
- Drizzle some oil on the skin and rub it around, this will help in browning
- Place the hens on a roasting pan with a tray inserted; pour water in the bottom of the pan, so the drippings do not burn
- Place in the hot oven for 15 minutes continuously rotating the pan so the hens get an even color distribution
- After the hens are brown, remove from oven, (add more water to the bottom if it has dried out) cover with foil and put back in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes at 350 degrees
- Remove the hens and place in a baking dish.
- To make the gravy pour out the drippings in a cup to separate fat
- In the same roasting pan placed on the stove, low heat, use 2 tablespoons of the dripping fat and cook the flour
- Once the flour is cooked into a paste add the rest of the dripping liquid (not fat)
- Once the flour has incorporated add ginger, lemon zest, salt, sugar and cook until thick
- Pour over the hens and enjoy, you can also place them back in the oven at 450 for 5 minutes just so the gravy caramelizes on the skin of the hen
|After 15 minutes of browning|
|After 30 minutes of cooking covered|
|dripping with fat settled on the top.|
This is not going to taste like orange or lemon chicken. The marinade and the zest, adds a bright finish to the meat. The Hens have a citrus undertone, with the ginger flavor shining through. And that stuffing!!! ohh boy
- Most people think Cornish hens are bland, however they just need to be soaked in a brine or marinate for at least 8 hours to allow the flavors to permeate the tissue.
- If you don't have kitchen twine, just use regular sewing thread, just double the length twice and wet it before tying the drumsticks
- Remember to remove the toothpick and cut the thread off before serving
Since you have already deboned your chickens, might as well make the stock and save it for the next post.... :)
Homemade stock (Printable Recipe)
- Bones from the Cornish hen seasoned with 3 tsp. salt ½ tsp. black pepper 1 tbls oil, ½ tsp. onion powder and ½ tsp. garlic powder and ½ tsp. smoked paprika. Stir this all up then roasted in a 450 degree oven for 6 to 10 minutes till they are brown.
- Sauté in 2 tsp. oil; ½ onion, 1 stalk celery, 1 carrot, 2 tsp. pimento, 1 stalk scallion, 3 sprigs thyme, 2 garlic cloves, all roughly chopped
- Add bones to this mixture and add enough water to cover the contents.
- Bring to a boil and once it starts to boil, turn it on the lowest setting and allow it to simmer for one hour.
- During the hour, keep an eye on it, every time my liquid reduces down I add more water just to cover the contents.
- After the hour when its done the last reduction, remove it from heat and let it cool and steep for another 4 hours up to overnight in the fridge. I strain mine the next morning so the bones really yield all their flavors.make sure to squeeze all the bones and veggies out to get as much liquid out as you can
Greedy stock tips:
- You can also make your stock with no salt, and add salt when you use each portion of it.
- To store you can freeze them in ice trays or little zip lock bags or any freezer safe plastic container.