Their fancy name and elegant presence on a platter can make anyone stand up and take notice — but not for long. When Cornish hens are on the menu, it’s a strange bird indeed who isn’t in a hurry to take a seat at the table and dig in. These “little chickens” seldom weigh more than two pounds, but their compact size belies their richness of flavor. Fruit glazes make a particularly complementary topper for these young chickens.
Things You'll Need
- Orange juice, orange concentrate or orange marmalade
- Brown sugar
- Corn syrup
- Brown mustard
- Small saucepan
- Mandarin orange segments
- Fresh or frozen cranberries
- Apple juice
- Thyme flakes
- Sweet red vermouth
- Minced garlic
- Fruit segments
- Melted butter
Make an orange-based glaze by using orange juice, orange concentrate or orange marmalade as your starting ingredient. Add ginger, tarragon and pepper. Alternatively, sweeten the orange base with brown sugar and corn syrup, then add brown deli mustard and ginger. Make a more complex orange glaze with an orange base and then half as much ketchup and honey. Bring your favorite orange glaze to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring constantly. Simmer and use the glaze to coat the Cornish hens while they cook.
Create an orange-cranberry glaze by combining orange juice and mandarin oranges along with fresh or frozen cranberries in a small saucepan. Heat and stir the ingredients until the cranberries break open. Strain the mixture over the sink and return it to the saucepan. Sweeten the glaze with a little sugar.
Make an apple glaze for your Cornish hens by mixing apple juice, honey, salt and thyme flakes in a small saucepan. Boil and simmer the ingredients until they thicken into a glaze.
Mix a sweet but “grown-up” glaze for your Cornish hens by combining sweet red vermouth, half as much water and minced garlic in a small saucepan. Sprinkle in thyme flakes and simmer until the mixture reduces to a glaze.
Sweeten the Cornish hens while they cook by placing fruit segments at the bottom of the roasting pan. Use fruit that will complement your glaze—such as orange or apple slices—and then add chopped nuts and raisins, if you like. Top this fruity layer with melted butter and cinnamon before placing the Cornish hens on top of this fruity nest.
Tips & Warnings
- Make enough glaze so that you can baste the hens about every 15 minutes or so while they cook.
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- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images