Last year on Valentines Day, I got the boy a cookbook. He had expressed an interest in cooking together more, and I found a great one called Date Night In. We had always planned to do one of the “nights” together, but for some reason never got around to it. Fast forward to a couple weeks ago when we are planning Valentines Day 2016. We decided not to go out to a restaurant, and instead cook for ourselves at home. And I thought, “What a wonderful opportunity to use the book I gave him last year!” Except I started flipping through the pages and nothing really said “Valentines Day!” to me. Something a little special, but not overly complicated. Something delicious. There were a lot of delicious looking recipes in there, but nothing that fit my other nebulous descriptors.
So I pulled out another cookbook I had acquired at some point called “The Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook” that I’d acquired at some point, and started flipping through the recipes. Even just starting at the regular chicken breast recipes, I was blown away. How had I never used this cookbook before? (Answer: I use the internet for too much when I’ve got a great resource at my fingertips) And as I flipped through none-too-exciting chicken recipes, I happened upon one for Cornish Game Hens. I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen them in the poultry case at the grocery store every once in a while, and wondered what it would be like to cook one.
I then flipped to the sides/vegetables section and looked at recipes for either green beans for broccoli since we would be getting both in our CSA that week. The boy chose broccoli, so that’s what we made. We would also have salad, and the plan was originally to make an apple galette, but we lost track of time, and didn’t end up making it.
So how was it all? Very tasty. The game hens were so cute, and it was fun to have our own little chicken each (though if you don’t have any experience with carving chicken, it might be complicated trying to get as much meat off as possible. When I’d mentioned our Valentines plans to some coworkers, one had warned me that CGH have a tendency to dry out since they are so small. This recipe mitigates that by adding on a glaze that makes the hens juicy and delicious. The broccoli was good, and the boy did nearly all of that himself (yay kitchen skills practice!), and even helped out with drying rubbing seasonings into the hens.
All in all a good time. I would have eaten more of my hen if I hadn’t been stuffed from a big brunch earlier in the day, but lucky for us, I froze the hen carcasses, and when I have time in the future, I’ll make a big batch of stock that will be AMAZING.
Honey Roasted Cornish Game Hens
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
2 (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pound) whole Cornish game hens, giblets discarded
5 tbsp honey
5 tsp cider vinegar
2 tsp plus 1/2 cup water
1 tsp cornstarch
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 tsp minced fresh thyme
1 tbsp unsalted butter, chilled
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Set wire rack in rimmed baking sheet. Combine 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, and paprika in a bowl.
2. Pat hens dry with paper towels. Sprinkle evenly all over with salt mixture and rub in mixture with your hands to coat evenly. Tuck wingtips behind backs and lay hens breast side down on prepared wire rack. Roast hens until backs are golden brown, about 25 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, bring 1/4 cup honey and 1 tablespoon vinegar to simmer in small saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk together 2 teaspoons water and 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch in a small bowl, then whisk into saucepan. COntinue to simmer glaze until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.
4. Remove hens from oven and brush backs with one-third of glaze. Flip hens breast side up and brush with half of remaining glaze. Continue to roast for 15 minutes.
5. Remove hens from oven and increase oven temperature to 450 degrees. Pour remaining 1/2 cup water and broth into baking sheet. Brush hens with remaining glaze and continue to roast until glaze is spotty brown and breasts register 160 degrees and thighs register 175 degrees, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer hens to serving platter and let rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
6. Pour liquid from baking sheet into now empty saucepagn and let settle for 5 minutes. Using large spoon, skim excess fat from surface of liquid. Stir thyme and remaining 1 tablespoon honey, bring to simmer, and cook until sauce is reduced to 1/2 cup. 2 to 6 minutes.
7. Whisk together remianing 2 teaspoons vinegar and remianing 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch in a bowl, then whisk into saucepan. Continue to simmer sauce until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in any accumulated juices and simmer for 30 seconds. Off heat, whisk in butter and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hens with sauce.
Skillet Broccoli with Olive Oil and Garlic
Serves 2 / fast!
2 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp minced fresh thyme
8 ounces broccoli florets, cut into 1-inch pieces
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons water
1. Combine 1 tablespoon oil, garlic and thyme in bowl. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add broccoli and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, without stirring, until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes.
2. Add water, cover, and cook until broccoli is bright green but still crisp, about 2 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook until water has evaporated and broccoli is crisp-tender, about 2 minutes.
3. Push broccoli to sides of skillet. Add garlic mixture and cooking, mashing mixture into skillet, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir garlic mixture into broccoli. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
From: “The Complete Cooking For Two Cookbook” by America’s Test Kitchen