Sorry John, I’m 5 Years Late on the Chicks!

spice rubbed cornish hens
I’ve talked about my best friend a few times before (like here, and here, and oh, here too). I think she holds the record of “blog nods”, not counting the hubby of course because mentioning him just sorta, well, it comes with the territory so to speak. Have I ever talked about her husband though? I didn’t think so.

So here goes: Kris & John were married 5 years ago (yeah, 5!). As if you had to ask, I was the maid of honor. Well sorta, I was a “half” maid of honor, since I had to share the title. Begrudgingly, I did it. What are best friends for, anyway? (and plus, I knew deep down I was the real MOH anyway, right Kris?!) So yes, 5 years. I remember the days of their wedding planning just as vividly as I remember that dog chasing me on my bike years ago. Not for the same reason, of course. It was great fun. The wedding planning, I mean. The dog-chasing not so much.

chris me kris john in cancun

If you’ve ever been involved in these events, you’ll know that, in general, the dudes kinda sit back and chill. Sure, if you’ve got a good one, he’s obedient when prompted. If you’ve got a real good one, he’ll even plan most of the music and burn 200 CD’s. John, he’s a good one (and so’s mine – he burned those CD’s like nobody’s bizness) – he was around when needed, he gave his opinion (usually only when asked, which is key), and he kept his mom outta our hair as much as possible. But when it came to the food, he would. not. shut. up. He insisted on Cornish game hens.

cornish hens

This should come as no surprise, but Cornish hens were not eaten at that reception. I don’t remember what was, but there were no baby chickens to be had, that’s for certain. So this post, this is for you John.

Having recently eaten Cornish hens, I am now, 5 years later, inclined to agree with John. That sure would have been scrumptious for that reception. And if any creature without a head can be elegant, un jeune poulet would be. No doubt.

Outside of culinary school, this is the first time I’ve made Cornish hens. One of their best qualities is that they cook in half the time it takes to roast a chicken, so you can have these on a weeknight with no problem. But maybe because they’re half the size, and half the age of your standard chicken. You see, Cornish game hens are not game birds at all. They’re young chickens, and can be either male or female, so they aren’t even always hens. Whoever gave them the name must have been a bit off because quite frankly, nothing about the name is accurate. Nevertheless, these little buggers are tasty. Especially made this way.

cucumber mint sauce

The little chickies are rubbed in a blend of fragrant spices (cumin & coriander), and then they’re roasted in the oven. They come out with a great tan and are moist and succulent. And while the little chicks are roasting, you can make the sauce. It’s a sauce not to be forgotten. I was a little sneaky, and didn’t tell Chris it was primarily a cucumber sauce. And whatdya know, he loved it. So I’ve found one kind of cucumber he likes – pureed and incognito. But the sauce, really, is a great compliment to the sharpness of the spice rub. It’s cool and fresh, and leftover sauce would go great with pita bread or grilled veggies, I bet. As a side item, serve up some Israeli cous cous, which, to keep with the theme here, isn’t cous cous but is pasta. But so yummy – almost like the texture of tapioca pearls in bubble tea.

So John, if you haven’t gotten your Cornish hen fix since your attempts 5 years ago, try this. I think Kris might like it. Plus, you can use that Magic Bullet thing to puree the sauce – score!!

And the rest of you? Any Cornish hen recipes, thoughts, suggestions?

Spice-Roasted Cornish Hens w/ Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce
Adapted from Bon Appetit, June 2009; serves 4

2 Cornish hens, split lengthwise
2 t cumin
2 t coriander
1 t salt
3/4 t black pepper, fresh ground
olive oil
4 oz cucumber, peeled, cubed
1/3 cup plain lo-fat yogurt
8 fresh cilantro sprigs
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 heaping T sour cream

  1. Position rack in top third of oven; preheat to 450 F. Arrange hens, skin side up, on large rimmed baking sheet.
  2. Brush hens with oil. Rub spice mixture (cumin through pepper) over both hens. Roast until cooked through, about 30-35 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile (or up to a day before), combine all remaining ingredients in food processor (mini size is perfect). Blend until almost smooth, and season with salt and pepper. Serve with hens.

Last-Minute Israeli Cous Cous
Serves 4-5; NOT gluten-free

printable recipe

olive oil
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 t cumin
1 box Israeli cous cous
2/3 cup of mixed dried fruit (I used apricots & currants cause I had them)
1/4 chopped nuts (whatever you have, I didn’t use any this time)
salt & pepper

Pour about 1/2 T olive oil into saucepan on med-hi. Saute onions until browning, about 5 minutes. Cook cous cous according to package (2:1 water to pasta ratio, bring to boil, blah blah). One the mixture is to a boil, add in fruit and nuts. Season once cooked through.

4 thoughts on “Sorry John, I’m 5 Years Late on the Chicks!

  1. Kristin says:

    okay, so the cornish hen does look tasty. I'll admit, but do you REALLY think that 5 star could have done it up like that….I mean really!!! I'll get John to cook it up soon. Have I told you how much I love that you talk about me in these blogs?!?!? They are my favorite ones to read. LOL Can't wait to have some better pics though, those are horrible of me. Love you!!!

  2. Emily says:

    I saw this recipe and had a sticky note on the page! Although I still have a hard time attempting cornish hens for 1. You make it sound so easy!

  3. the twins says:

    those look great, thanks for the recipe. i've never had cornish game hens.we've passed on a blog award to you, come by our site to check it out.

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