Persian Game Hens

In Recipies on October 23, 2012 at 4:44 pm

People who appreciate food often give thought to a most terrible question: “What would you want for your last meal?”

Cornish game hen.

I love these little birds. Game hens are available ranging from 16oz to around 32oz. Since we eat very little meat, the 16oz hens are just right. They are very forgiving of novice cooks. Just put them in a 350F oven for about an hour, a little longer for bigger birds.

The hen has a mild flavor and texture that lends itself to a wide variety of flavors. You can stuff them, glaze them, or simply rub a spice/herb blend on them and bake. The dark meat is spare, moist, and buttery. The white meat is almost always juicy and tender.

Game hens are economical. A hen will cost between $2 and $3, depending on the weight. Buy them frozen. Fresh game hens are hard to find and, because of their small size, they don’t keep well unfrozen.

This is a “Persian” variation of mine. It’s only Persian because it uses a spice adored in ancient Persia, cardamom.

Let’s get cooking!

1 – 16-32oz game hen per person, thawed and rinsed

1 bay leaf per game hen

salt and freshly ground pepper

2 C mango juice (or orange juice)

1 tsp sugar

½ tsp cardamom

½ tsp allspice

1 TBS orange zest

1 TBS olive oil

¼ tsp garlic powder

 Pre-heat an oven to 350F. Lightly oil a small roasting pan with a bit of olive oil. Pour the remaining oil into your hands and thoroughly rub the hens with the oil to coat them. Place the hens, breast side up and sprinkle them sparingly with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover and bake for about 40-45 minutes. While the hens are baking, prepare the glaze.

In a small pan, place the mango juice, sugar, spices, garlic powder, and orange zest. Bring to a gentle boil and reduce by half. Remove from heat and reserve.

After about 40-45 minutes of cooking, remove the cover from the hens and generously baste each bird with the glaze. Return to the oven, uncovered. Every few minutes baste a bit more glaze on each bird. Continue baking and basting until the skin is glazed and crisp and the internal temperature (at the thickest part of the breast) reaches 155-160F. Remove the hens from the oven and allow them to rest for 5-10 minutes.

This version serves well with baked sweet potatoes and a wild rice pilaf.


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