On the third day of Christmas……
Instead of French hens, I decided to dedicate this third day to the Cornish hen. What we know as Cornish hens are actually distant relatives of true English game chickens from Cornwall (just a skip and a jump across the English Channel from France, I may add) that were cross-bred and developed in Connecticut, of all places, in the middle of the 20th century. My birds spent most of the day hanging out in one of my favorite marinades before making their way onto a colorful plate of tangy cabbage and roasted rosemary sweet potatoes.
One of my most beloved wedding gifts last year was a homemade, hand-written (with a table of contents) recipe book from my aunt and uncle. Filled with dozens of their favorites, Bob even organized the book into sections (seafood, beef, pasta, etc.) and blessed the book with important gastronomic passages such as: “Cheese–milk’s leap toward immortality.” –Clifton Fadiman
One of my favorite recipes in this book is “Apricot/Balsamic Glazed Chicken,” in which chicken pieces are sautéed in a delicious glaze, so I decided to turn that glaze into a marinade for my little poussins. Essentially the only difference is that I stuffed half an onion in each bird cavity instead of sautéing and adding it to the glaze.
Apricot Balsamic Glazed Cornish Hens (Adapted from Sheila and Bob’s Apricot/Balsamic Glazed Chicken)
2 Cornish hens, between 1 and 1.5 pounds each
1 onion, peeled and cut in half
1 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
1/3 c. apricot preserves
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. dijon mustard
pinch of salt and black pepper
Combine thyme, apricot preserves, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper and pour over hens into a shallow baking dish. Ensure marinade covers each bird entirely. Allow chicken to marinade in the fridge, covered, for several hours.
Set the oven at 375 and remove hens from fridge. Stuff each cavity with half an onion, and set chicken on sheet pan. Bake for approximately one hour (depending on the size of bird), using meat thermometer to ensure doneness.
“Never eat more than you can lift.” –Miss Piggy