Continuing with the red theme of the Valentine’s Day dinner I served last Saturday, I chose this recipe for the main course. It’s based on a highly rated recipe from epicurious.com with several modifications.
- 4 1-1/2 to 2 pound Cornish games hens
- 5 tablespoons butter, softened, divided
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 4 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, divided
- 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
- 12 ounces low-salt chicken broth
- 1 cup white grape juice
- 3/4 cup frozen cranberry juice cocktail concentrate, thawed
- 1/2 cup dried sweetened cranberries
- Rinse hens and pat dry. Trim off excess skin from around cavity. Reserve skin. Tie legs together with kitchen twine and tuck wing tips under back.
- Preheat oven to 450°F. Blend 2 tablespoons butter, sugar, and 2 teaspoon thyme in small bowl. Spread skin of each hen with 1/4 of butter mixture and arrange on rimmed baking sheet. Roast hens for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375ºF and continue to roast until internal temperature reaches 170ºF, about 30 minutes more.
- Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add reserved skin and sear until deep brown, about 4 minutes. Discard skin. Blend remaining 2 tablespoons butter and flour in small bowl. Add broth, grape juice, cranberry concentrate, and remaining 2 teaspoons thyme to skillet. Boil until sauce is reduced to 1 1/2 cups, whisking often, about 9 minutes. Whisk in flour mixture and cranberries. Simmer until sauce coats spoon, stirring often, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Transfer hens to plate, spoon sauce over and serve.
Instead of cutting the hens in half, I left them whole. It takes a little longer to cook, but I think it makes a nicer presentation. Also, once you remove the bones, half a hen really isn’t very filling, so everyone got their own bird. Because I roasted them whole, there was no need to sear them before placing them in the oven. I didn’t feel so much butter per hen was required, so I reduced that quite a bit. Finally, I adjusted the recipe to serve 4 adults. For smaller appetites, you may still want to consider half a bird per person (but still roast them whole).