Thursday, November 26, 2009

Roasted Cornish Game Hen

With only two of us at Thanksgiving, cooking a turkey, or even just a turkey breast, seems like a waste of food. However, Cornish game hens are just the right size. We generally only eat half of the chicken, so splitting one between the two of us is just right.

Wine-brined Cornish Game Hen
2 Cornish Game Hens
375ml bottle of chardonnay
1/2 inch fresh ginger root peeled
5 cloves garlic
1/3 cup coarse kosher salt
~500 ml water

Peel both the ginger and garlic. Microplane both spices into a large non-reactive bowl or pan that is large enough to hold both game hens. I used a 5-quart stainless steel pan.

Add salt, wine, and 375 ml of water to pan. Heat while stirring until salt has dissolved and the scents of ginger and garlic begin to waft from the pan. Remove from heat and cool.

Wash game hens under running water, removing any giblets and excess fat on the flaps of skin at the body cavity. Once the brine is cooled, add the game hens. Add remaining water until game hens are covered. Refrigerate for 2-4 hours.

Preheat oven to 400°F (205°C). Remove game hens from brine and rinse. Pat dry. Place flat on roasting rack in roaster. Roast in oven until internal temperature of the game hen reaches 180°F (82°C) or until desired doneness. This will take approximately an hour to an hour and a half.

This was my first attempt to brine a bird. I declare it a success -- the meat was tender and juicy, slightly sweetened by the wine and enhanced by the ginger and garlic. I had expected a slightly heavier spicing, but this was nice as the spices highlighted the natural flavor of the meat instead of overpowering it.

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