Cornish hens also known as spring chicken is an item I try to have in my freezer at all times. Like most children, my own two love roasted chicken so I literally have to make those almost every week. The great think about cornish hens is that they also make an elegant and crowd pleasing main coarse for a planned ahead or even a last minute dinner with friends. So having 3 or 4 of them on stock means you always have a great meal plan.
3 cornish hens or spring chickens
1 cup basmati rice
3 Tbs of butter at room temperature, divides
1 Tbs ketchup
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 Tbs lemon or lime juice
2 Tbs canola oil
3 green onions
2 Tbs dry currants
2 Tbs parsley, chopped
2 tsp fresh mint, chopped
1 tsp fresh tarragon, chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme
3 limes, cut in halves
zest of one lemon
salt and pepper to taste
Prep the chickens: Wash the chickens and trim any excess fat or skin. Dry them with paper towel, sprinkle generously salt and black pepper and set aside.
In a small bowl combine 1 1/2Tbs of butter, the ketchup, 1 Tbs of lemon juice, half the lemon zest, 1 crushed garlic clove and mix well. Massage the marinate into the skin of the chickens making sure not to miss a spot. Place 1 lime, cut in halves in the cavity of each chicken. Place them breast side up on a baking sheet, tuck the wings under and tie the legs with butchers twine. Set aside while preheating the oven.
Preheat the oven to 225C/450F.
Roast: Cover them loosely with aluminum foil and bake in medium position for 45-50 min. Remove the foil and roast for 30-40 more minutes or until the skin is golden and the juices when cutting through the leg run clear. If the skin and nice and brown, but the chicken are not cooked trough, simply cover again with the foil and cook them for a few more minutes.
Make the rice: While the chicken is in the oven, sauté the green onions on medium heat in the remaining butter and canola for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and the currants and cook for 1 more minute. Add the rice and cook for another minute or until the rice is translucent. Season with salt and pepper, add the remaining 1 Tbs lemon juice, the zest and the water, close the lid and lower the heat.
When the water has evaporated and the rice is cooked trough, turn off the heat, sprinkle the parsley, mint, tarragon and thyme, give in a gentle stir, put the lid back on an let the fresh herbs
infuse the rice with their aromas.
Serve: Spoon the rice around the edges of a large serving platter. Place the chickens in the middles and serve accompanied with mint sauce. Serve halve a chicken per person and remember to remove the limes from the cavity.
Wine suggestion: French Pinot Noir, such as Côte de Beaune or Côte Chalonnaise.