How to Make Rock Cornish Game Hens
Rock Cornish game hens are easy to prepare, especially if you’re new to cooking whole poultry. Plus, the cooked hens make the most lovely presentation when you bring them to the dinner table. They are perfect for any special occasion entertaining!
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What are Rock Cornish Game Hens?
Rock Cornish game hens are a very young breed of broiler chicken that is a cross between a Cornish chicken and a Plymouth Rock chicken. They are ready to be served when they weigh no more than 2 pounds, as opposed to a more mature chicken that generally weighs 4 or more pounds.
Rock Cornish game hens are highly prized for their exceptionally tender meat. Because of their tenderness, many folks often prefer them over the meat of older and larger chickens.
Since the hens are smaller, they are easier to prepare, which is great news for new home cooks who might find cooking a full-sized chicken a bit unwieldy.
A Few Fun Facts about Rock Cornish Game Hens
Yes. They’re tasty and tender, but do you also know these other facts about Rock Cornish game hens?
- Even though the name of these birds includes the word game, they are actually not game birds.
- When you buy these hens at your grocery store, they aren’t always hens! Rock Cornish game hens may be female or male. The good news is that no matter what type of “hen” you get, they are always delicious!
Where to Find Rock Cornish Game Hens
You’ll generally find Rock Cornish game hens in the freezer section of most grocery stores next to other types of poultry, including turkey, duck, and goose. Most often, they are sold in a package containing two hens.
After purchasing your frozen hens, you can store them in your freezer for up to six months. When you’re ready to defrost and cook them, allow them to thaw overnight in your refrigerator.
Stuffing Rock Cornish Game Hens
I love to stuff my Rock Cornish game hens with a wild rice blend. It’s the perfect accompaniment to the hens, plus it saves you the work of having to make another side dish. You can literally make a one pan meal!
However, if you want to serve these hens with an additional side, I highly recommend some type of green vegetable. For example, I like to make green beans almondine, which is an easy recipe yet looks special.
Easiest Raspberry Sauce for Rock Cornish Game Hens
You can simply roast your Rock Cornish game hens as you might roast any chicken or other poultry. However, by adding the raspberry sauce that I share in this recipe, you will bring your hens to a new level of deliciousness.
The raspberry sauce provides a bit of sweetness and a bit of tang for the perfect balance of flavors. Plus, if you are serving this at holiday time, the red hue cast over the hens by the sauce looks exceptionally festive!
When you add in a side of green beans almondine, the contrast between the red raspberry sauce and the green beans makes this dish perfect for your Christmas dinner table.
And don’t tell anyone how easy it was to make the sauce. You literally just warm a jar of jelly or jam and spoon it over your hens before you pop them under the broiler. That’s it! It couldn’t be easier, yet the resulting meal looks so gourmet.
Cooking the Rock Cornish Game Hens
In my recipe, I recommend cooking the Rock Cornish game hens to an internal temperature of 180°F. This temperature is higher than the general U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines for cooking poultry to an internal temperature of 165°F.
Costco Recommends Cooking Chicken to 185°F
I choose to cook my Rock Cornish game hens to an internal temperature of 180°F is because I like to lean towards the Costco guidelines for cooking poultry.
Costco labels the raw chickens they sell with instructions to cook them to an internal temperature of 185°F at home. Since my Rock Cornish game hens are smaller than regular chickens, I’m cooking them to 180°F.
USDA Recommendations on Cooking Poultry
Although the USDA recommends that it is sufficient to cook our poultry to an internal temperature of 165°F, the agency states that consumers:
“…for reasons of personal preference, many chose to cook poultry to higher temperatures…higher final temperatures may be needed for consumer acceptability and palatability…in order to remove the pink appearance and rubbery texture.”Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy
And that is exactly why I cook my Rock Cornish game hens to an internal temperature of 180°F and my chickens to 185°F. At 165°F, I often see pink chicken meat and juices that are not running clear. That’s just downright unappetizing!
So, yes, you can cook your hens to an internal temperature of 165°F. However, as the USDA indicates, you may not find your hens palatable if their meat has a pink appearance and rubbery texture!
But rest assured. As I show you in today’s video, your hen’s meat will be tender and juicy and not the least bit dry even when cooked to an internal temperature of 180°F.
More Poultry Recipes
If you enjoy poultry, try one of the following recipes that are exceptionally easy for the new traditional foods home cook.
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Rock Cornish Game Hens
- Baking sheet or roasting pan
- Flat roasting rack or cooling rack
- Small sauce pan
- Silicone pastry brush or standard pastry brush
Rock Cornish Hens
- 4 Rock Cornish game hens
- 1 tbsp Salt
- 1 tsp Black pepper
- 1/2 – 1 tsp Red pepper flakes, optional
- 4 tbsp Butter, melted I used unsalted butter. If you use salted butter, decrease the salt in this recipe and use only 2 teaspoons.
- 4 cups Cooked wild rice mix, optional The rice should be undercooked so that it still has a "bite" to it.
- 1 12 ounce jar Red raspberry jelly or jam If you have an 8-ounce or a 16-ounce jar of jelly or jam, that will work fine as well. If the jam has seeds, use a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds. (See video.)
Rock Cornish Hens
- Preheat the oven to 350°F
- Line a baking sheet or roasting pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Set aside.
- If available, place a rack on the baking sheet or roasting pan.
- Using a pastry brush, brush the rack with a bit of the melted butter.
- Mix together the salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes (if using) in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Unwrap the hens, pat dry, and place them on a platter.
- One at a time, rub a small amount of the salt mixture into the cavity of each hen. (Use only half of the total mixture and reserve the remaining half.)
- If you want at this point, you can stuff each hen with one cup of the wild rice mixture. (See video.) See the Recipe Notes below for additional information on the amount of wild rice mixture to cook to stuff four hens.
- Place each hen on the rack on the baking sheet or roasting pan. (Alternatively, if you are not using a rack, place hens directly on the foil or parchment paper-lined baking sheet or roasting pan.)
- Wash hands well in warm soapy water before proceeding with the remainder of the recipe instructions.
- Brush each hen with butter using a pastry brush or a spoon.
- Sprinkle the tops of each hen with the remaining salt mixture.
- Place hens into preheated oven and roast for one hour or until the internal temperature of the thigh meat reaches 180°F. Because hens vary in size, the cooking time could extend an additional 15 minutes for a total of one hour and 15 minutes.
- When the hens have almost finished cooking, remove the raspberry jelly or jam from its container and place the jelly or jam into a small saucepan. Warm the saucepan slowly over low heat until it has a liquid consistency. Set aside and keep warm.
- If using a jam with seeds, warm the jam and then run the jam through a fine-mesh strainer to remove the seeds. Return the strained seedless jam to the saucepan and rewarm. Set aside and keep warm.
- When hens have finished cooking, remove them from the oven and place the baking sheet or roasting pan on a heatproof surface.
- Using a pastry brush, brush each hen with the raspberry sauce until the hens are completely covered. (See video.)
- Return the hens to the oven and turn on the broiler. Broil for one minute or less until raspberry sauce begins to bubble. Watch closely to avoid burning the raspberry sauce.
- Remove the hens from the oven and transfer them to a serving platter or individual serving plates and serve immediately.
- In addition to the wild rice, you can also add a serving of green beans almondine to this meal. (See the Recipe Notes below for additional information.)
- Wrapped well, you can store any leftover hens in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or the freezer for up to one month.
- To reheat the hens, allow the frozen hens to thaw overnight in the refrigerator. You can warm the refrigerated hens on a lined baking sheet in a 350°F oven for 10-15 minutes until heated through. Alternatively, you can also reheat the hens on a small lined baking sheet in a large toaster oven set to 350°F for 10-15 minutes.
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**Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor, a medical professional, a dietician, or a nutritionist. All content found on the MarysNest.com website, including text, images, videos, eBooks or eGuides, social media, or other formats, were created solely for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or proper nutritional advice. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have watched in a video or read on this website. Use caution when following the recipe in this video. The creator and publisher of this video and website will not be held responsible for any adverse effects that may arise from the use of this recipe and method or any other recipe and method on this website or corresponding video channel.