I was recently asked to post some of my easier recipes and this is definitely one of them. With 10 minutes of prep, you can put the game hens in the oven then sit down and relax for ½ an hour. Then, by the time you slice and cook the cabbage the hens should be coming out of the oven. Viola! Your plates will look like you worked very hard but you will still have enough energy left to enjoy the compliments.
I know some of you are a little intimidated by Game Hens but they are really just little chickens. To split them just set them, breast side up, on the cutting board and take a knife or kitchen shears and carefully cut, lengthwise, through the center of the top of the bird. Once the breast is cut through you can spread open the cavity a little, sort of like a book, then cut down either side of the backbone to remove it. That’s all there is to it! You should now have two even halves.
Here is a video in case you need a little more help: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kwyB_HDk8MM
You can cook these hens whole but for this recipe I think they cook through better, and present better, when cut in halves before cooking. If you are still hesitant, this recipe would work fine with a smaller chicken cut into quarters. I do recommend you give these little hens a try though; they are easy to work with, tender and delicious, and very impressive looking on the plate. (They will think you slaved for hours!)
Notes: For the cabbage, I like to let it cook without stirring for more than 5 minutes at a time. This allows the cabbage to brown a little and makes it taste almost like it was griddled on a restaurant flattop. Just be sure to shake the pan at least every 5 minutes to make sure it doesn’t get too brown.
Greek Roasted Game Hens with Fingerling Potatoes
2 – Rock Cornish Hens, split into 4 halves, rinsed and patted dry
Juice of 1 lemon
¼ Cup – Olive oil
¼ Cup – Fresh parsley, chopped
½ Tbsp – Dried oregano
1 Clove – Garlic, minced very fine
¼ Tsp each – Kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper
1/2 Lb – Fingerling potatoes, about 8 or 10 total, rinsed and dried
1 – Spring fresh rosemary
Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. Combine the lemon juice, parsley, oregano, garlic, and salt & pepper in a medium sized mixing bowl. Whisk the olive oil slowly into the bowl until all of the oil is added then continue whisking until the liquid begins to thicken. Dredge each Cornish hen half in the liquid rubbing carefully with your hands to cover all sides. Place the hens in a 9” X 13” glass baking dish.
Dredge the potatoes in the remaining liquid and distribute them around and in-between the Cornish hens. Drizzle or sprinkle any remaining liquid or herbs over the hens and add sprinkle more of salt & pepper if desired. Place in the oven and bake 1 hour.
Carefully remove and allow to rest 15 minutes before serving with cabbage.
Fennel Infused Pan-Sauteed Cabbage
½ Head – Cabbage, halved lengthwise then sliced crosswise in ½” increments
1 – Small white onion, halved & sliced
1 Clove – Garlic, minced
½ Tbsp – Whole dried fennel seeds
Kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper to taste
In a large sauté pan over medium heat, warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil until shimmering hot. Saute the onions and garlic for about 1 minute before adding the remaining ingredients. Cook, stirring only occasionally, until cabbage is just tender through and through…about 20 minutes. Set aside until the hens are finished then serve the cabbage as a bed on the plate, with Cornish hens placed on top.