Monday, February 22, 2010

Boned and stuffed Cornish game hens

I taught myself to completely bone out chickens many years ago. Since the anatomy for game hens is the same, it was easy to bone them. Unless you want to try boning, just leave the birds whole (or use another technique you can see demonstrated online for removing the breast bone and ribs). I post the recipe as if you are not boning the hens.

It was my intent to remove all the bones, but when I got to the wings I realized they were so small that I'd just leave their little bones in. Besides it made the birds still resemble birds after I trussed it up, as above.

What makes this fun is that once the hens are cooked you just slice them like a roast. I wish I could create a YouTube video of my boning technique, but I’m afraid that’s beyond me.

In most supermarkets you can only find a wild rice and white rice mix packaged. It’s fine to use that. Just cook it the way the box says.

Boned Cornish hens with wild rice and mushroom stuffing
2 Cornish hens*
1/2 cup wild rice or wild rice mix, cooked according to the package
4 dried shiitake mushrooms
4 large white button mushrooms
salt and pepper to taste
1 small lemon, sliced, seeds removed
2 tbsp butter, softened to room temperature

Reconstitute the shiitakes in hot tap water for 30 minutes.

Cook the wild rice in water or broth, but be sure to use the mushroom liquid. Drain.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and place a rack in the middle position.

Cut out the shiitake stems and slice thin. Slice the button mushrooms thin. Saute them both in 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp butter until they’ve released all their water and begun to brown.

Mix the rice and mushrooms together in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. If using whole hens (as you probably are), dry them thoroughly inside and out. Season the cavity with salt and pepper. Lay lemon slices inside the cavity and then spoon in the stuffing. Tie the legs together to provide a cover on the cavity.

Smear butter all over the birds and season all over with salt and pepper. Place them on a rack, breast side down, in a baking pan with 1” sides. After 20 minutes, turn them over and baste with some more butter. Roast to 165 degrees in the thickest part of the thigh and breast. Remove from the oven, spoon out the stuffing and keep it warm, tent birds with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes. Carve and you know the rest. The total roasting time should be in the 35 minute range.

* Since I boned my birds, I lay them open skin side down on a cutting board. Season with salt and pepper. Lay the lemon slices in the middle and top with a pile of stuffing. Gather the meat together in the shape of a roast and tie with kitchen string to hold it together. Slather the skin all over with butter and season all over with salt and pepper. Then roast as above. You won’t need to remove the stuffing before slicing across, but do remove the strings.

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