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The Care and Roasting of the Cornish Hen

December 20, 1990|JEAN ANDERSON and ELAINE HANNA

There are a couple of points to bear in mind: Never salt the hens until after they're cooked, because they may toughen and dry. And unless the hens are accompanied by a cover-up sauce, you'll need to brush them with a browning glaze.

ROAST CORNISH HENS

WITH MUSHROOM-

BULGUR PILAF

1 cup coarsely chopped mushrooms

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 cup bulgur

1 3/4 cups chicken broth

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans

2 (1 1/2- to 2-pound) Cornish hens

3 tablespoons liquid gravy browner mixed with 3 tablespoons water

Place mushrooms in butter in paper-towel-covered, microwave-safe 2 1/2-quart casserole. Microwave on HIGH (100% power) 2 minutes. Add bulgur and broth. Cover with casserole lid and microwave on HIGH 4 to 6 minutes until small bubbles appear at edge of casserole.

Stir lightly, re-cover and microwave on MEDIUM (50% power) 9 to 10 minutes, without stirring, until almost all liquid is absorbed. Let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Mix in salt, pepper and pecans.

Loosely stuff body cavities of hens, allowing 1/3 cup stuffing for each, then skewer openings shut. Place remaining stuffing in lightly buttered 6-cup casserole. Cover with foil and set in conventional oven set at 300 degrees.

Arrange hens, breast-side up, at least 1 inch apart in microwave-safe bake/roast pan with drumsticks toward center. Brush each bird with gravy browner glaze. Microwave hens, uncovered, on HIGH, allowing 6 to 8 minutes per pound (combined weight). When legs move easily in hip sockets and juices run clear, hens are done.

Brush hens again with browning glaze, then let stand, uncovered, 5 minutes before serving. Accompany with remaining stuffing. Makes 4 servings.

CORNISH HENS

WITH BLACK

CHERRY SAUCE

2 (1 1/2- to 1 3/4-pound) Cornish hens, halved lengthwise and wing tips removed

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 (1-pound, 1-ounce) can pitted dark sweet cherries, undrained

1 teaspoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons cornstarch blended with 2 tablespoons cold water

2 tablespoons dry Port or Madeira wine

Dash black pepper

Brown hens, skin-side down, 2 minutes in 2 batches in heated butter in large skillet on top of stove over medium-high heat. Transfer to microwave-safe 11x8x2-inch casserole, arranging skin-side-up, with meatiest parts toward outside.

Cover with wax paper and microwave on HIGH (100% power) 15 to 20 minutes, rearranging at half time, until hens are tender. When legs move easily in hip sockets and juices run clear, hens are done. With slotted spoon, lift hens to heated serving dish and sprinkle with salt. Cover with foil and let stand while making sauce.

Skim fat from casserole. Strain liquid through fine sieve and reserve. Drain cherry liquid into microwave-safe 2-cup measure and add enough reserved liquid to total 1 1/4 cups.

Stir in lemon juice and cornstarch paste. Microwave, uncovered, on HIGH 3 to 3 1/2 minutes, whisking at half time, until sauce boils and thickens. Stir in wine, pepper and cherries and microwave, uncovered, on HIGH 1 minute. Spoon some of sauce over birds and pass rest separately. Makes 4 servings.

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