Cornish hens with a tangy orange ginger flavor. Small chickens work with this too!
Any Poultry Works
Who remembers when frying chickens were 3 pounds and under? Heck, I can remember when they were 19 cents per pound–and that was the regular price–but I digress.
The original recipe called for poussins, which are very young and small chickens, I opted to use Cornish game hens in this orange Cornish hens recipe. Cornish hens are approximately the same size as a poussin. However, if you can find very small young chickens (and you can but it’s difficult) then by all means use them in this recipe. Regardless, any chicken parts will work here, they just need a longer cooking time.
Since you use small chickens or Cornish game hens in this recipe, the poultry is more or less cooked “whole,” and spatchcocked.
Spachcocking is removing the backbone and flattening out the bird. This isn’t an easy task if done with a knife–even a very sharp one. I know; I’ve tried. Believe it or not, I never owned a set of poultry shears so I treated myself to this pair. Well, this old bird (pun intended) found out what I’ve been missing all the years I didn’t have a pair in my kitchen. They work like a dream and if you love chicken as much as I do, then treat yourself to a pair.
All I can say is, “Oh my!”
The gravy is the best part of this orange ginger Cornish hen dinner. And even better, the gravy makes itself.
It grabs all the flavor from the juices, then slowly reduces in the final cooking time. Because it reduces, the flavors become very concentrated so there’s a definite citrusy flavor and the ginger intensifies that flavor as well.
This is one meal you’ll make often because the family is going to love this!
Orange Ginger Cornish Hens
- 3 Cornish game hens
- 1 tbs honey
- 1 rounded tbs cornstarch
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the marinade:
- 1 1/2 cups orange juice
- 3 large garlic cloves crushed
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 4 tbs soy sauce
- 1 tbs chopped sage plus extra leaves to garnish
- 2 tsp thyme leaves
- 1 tbs coarsely grated fresh ginger
- First cut the backbone out of each Cornish hen. Place the birds, breast-side down, on a chopping board and, using a sharp pair of kitchen scissors or shears, cut along either side of the bone to remove completely. Turn over and flatten the hens by pressing down with your hand over the breast bone.
- Combine all the marinade ingredients and place in a large, resealable freezer bag with the hens. Seal the bag and leave to marinate in the fridge for about 24 hours.
- When you’re ready to cook, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200C).
- Take the birds out of the bag, reserving the marinade to make the sauce. Arrange them, breast-side up, in a large roasting tin and drizzle over the honey.
- Place in the oven to roast for about 20 minutes. Measure the cornstarch into a small bowl, add the marinade and mix until smooth. Pour the marinade over the hens and return to the oven for a further 15 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and cut each bird in half along the breast bone. Strain the juices left in the tin to make a sauce, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Serve half a hen per person, with some of the sauce spooned over.
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