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Cornish Hens

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A.K.A

Cornish game hens, Rock Cornish hens

What is it?

A cross between White Rock and Cornish chickens, Cornish game hens are basically miniature chickens. (They’re different from poussins, which are young chickens.) They look and taste great without requiring a huge amount of effort—just a little preparation and straightforward roasting technique. And each bird is a generous single portion, so everyone has his or her own package on the plate. Best of all, Cornish game hens pair well with all kinds of flavors, including citrus, fresh herbs, aromatic spices, dried fruits, wild rice, and even truffle oil.

How to choose:

When these hens are fresh in the grocery store, be careful to look for those with skin that isn’t torn. Be aware that a game hen’s skin is thinner than a regular chicken’s, and therefore more prone to tearing. That’s why you need to choose hens without tears, so the stuffing stays inside.

How to prep:

Often they’re sold frozen, in which case you’ll need to allow 24 to 48 hours to defrost them in the refrigerator.

When slipping a stuffing or butter under the skin, try not to force or overstuff—the skin will rip during roasting if you’ve added too much, so stick to the quantities called for in the recipes. Hens stuffed under the skin need a little less roasting time than if the cavity is stuffed. For roasting, a jelly roll pan or shallow roasting pan is ideal.

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