A couple of weeks ago, I passed the cooler of Cornish game hens at the grocery store and I could not resist. I haven’t even eaten Cornish game hen since I was a child. I didn’t have the first clue about how to prepare one. But the second the cashier rang them up, it was a done deal and I wasn’t backing down.
I turned to my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook–which, as it turns out, is like a Holy Bible for novice cooks–for proper guidance. However, I did make one change. The cookbook instructed to roast the hens breast side up, but I’d read elsewhere that roasting game breast side down dries it out less and results in juicier meat. I’m tired of cooking dry meat, so guess which path I took?
While the hens roasted, I worked on my first risotto. I chose a recipe for “easy” risotto, since I’ve read that classic risotto isn’t always easy to make successfully. Things weren’t off to a good start; I tried to crush a bouillon cube to get a teaspoon of granules, but the cube wasn’t as weak as I’d anticipated and I ended up with bouillon granules all over the place.
Several minutes of sweeping up bouillon later, I got the rice, butter, and onion in the pot.
Once I had control over the risotto, I got the hens out of the oven to take their temperature. After I pulled the thermometer out of the meat, juices spewed out of the hole I’d poked and ran down the body of the bird like a raging river. At first, my face scrunched up in disgust. But just hours earlier, I’d been watching Take Home Chef and as Curtis Stone stuffed a chicken, he made a comment about cooks needing to be in touch with their food. He said that most people would say, “This is so gross!” as they dig their hands into a raw chicken–but if you’re comfortable eating it, you certainly should be comfortable handling it when you prepare it. Once I reminded myself of this, I was able to brush off the disgust I’d felt watching the juices ooze out of the hens.
So, my fiance and I dished up our risotto and our hens and sat down for our meal. I dug right into the risotto–which was fabulous–while my fiance made the first cut into his hen, somewhere around the thigh. To our horror, blood spewed out ALL over his plate. Literally, his risotto was drowned in a pool of juicy hen blood. But the meat itself was definitely cooked thoroughly. We discussed it for several minutes–safe to eat, or no? It was almost funny since he’d asked me as I was cooking if he should reserve a room at the ER.
Ultimately, he flipped his bird over and cut into the breast meat. It was beautifully done and blood-free. He felt comfortable eating it, so we proceeded with the meal. I was absolutely dumbfounded by how tender and flavorful the meat was! I actually second-guessed every bite I took, thinking: Did I really cook this?
So, I can roast a Cornish game hen. The blood still gives me the heebie-jeebies, but there’s no arguing how damn good that meat tasted. In fact, it was so great that I’ve decided I want to take on a whole chicken. Woah, is that bravery in my voice?