On one weekend, we made a couple of vegetable dishes including ratatouille, baked green beans, and baked cauliflower with back olive and garbanzo beans. I cooked a Cornish game hen on Monday evening with these vegetables as side dishes. Because the bird is small, it cooks rather quickly. I pan-fried and then finished it in the oven.
I posted barbecued Cornish hens before . This is the second best way to have Cornish game hen especially on a weeknight. Since we are not barbecuing, it may not have enough taste, thus, requiring prior marination.
I remove the back bone using kitchen shears by cutting lengthwise across either side of the bone. I flatten the bird on the cutting board skin-side down and then cut the breast bone lengthwise in half using a heavy chef’s knife making two halves of the hen. I marinated the hen over night in the refrigerator using a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, crushed garlic, roughly cut stalks of green onion, salt and pepper. Essentially, you are marinating the birds in French vinaigrette. You could add herbs like rosemary or tarragon. The next day, after draining, the marinade, I pat dry the surface with a paper towel and lightly sprinkle salt and pepper. In a frying pan, I add olive oil (1 tbs) and cook the skin side down for 5-7 minutes until the skin become brown. You may have to blot the excess oil using paper towels during this process. I flip the bird over and finish cooking in a 400F convection oven for about 15 minutes or maybe a bit longer. After 15 minutes, take the temperature at the thickest thigh part if or when it registers 160F or higher, remove the bird to a plate and loosely cover with aluminum foil and let it rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, I make a simple pan juice sauce. If there is too much oil in the pan, remove most of it (leaving 1-2 tsp) by blotting with a paper towel. Put the pan on a medium flame and add finely chopped shallot and saute for 1-2 minutes, de-glaze with dry red wine (1/4 cup) (white wine, Marsala, or white vermouth will also work), reduce the liquid by half. Add any juice accumulated on the plate on which the bird is resting. I finish the sauce by adding and emulsifying with pats of butter. Usually it does not need additional salt and pepper since these come off the surface of the bird to the pan while cooking.
The only way to enjoy a Cornish game hen is to use your fingers and go at it. The meat is more succulent than its larger cousin and the skin, especially of the wing, is crispy.