Cooking is a valuable skill. It is easy to forget what delicious meals can be made with little preparation once you are familiar with the techniques. This sub needs a little love so I thought I would share my thoughts on cooking game hens. It's true they are much smaller than turkeys, but unless you are very hungry there will likely still be some delicious leftovers.
Go and tidy up the kitchen a bit first, you'll want a bit of room and some clean kitchenware to work with. When your cooking space is ready, come back and read up on how to make tasty game hens! It's actually pretty easy.
Mise en place (everything in it's place):
large bowl, basket or strainer
ladle, baster or large spoon
Cornish game hen
wild rice blend
head of garlic, or at least 5 large peeled cloves
salt and pepper blend
The Day Before the Cook
Defrost your hen if it is frozen. Do not leave it out at room temperature to defrost, the outside will spoil before the center melts. Use the fridge if you have time, or submerge it in water if you are in a hurry.
If you have planned this meal a day in advance you can make a brine. Fill a pot with enough water to submerge the hen. Use a salt and pepper blend, preferably the kind for dry rubs with the larger bits of black pepper. Don't worry if it also has some other herbs or spices in it. The salt will sink, the pepper will float, sprinkle it in until the pepper lightly coats the whole surface of the water. Next do the same with chili powder. If you can find pure chili powder, that is best, extra additives just weaken the effect. If you have something like a spice rack look for Bay leaves, oregano, rosemary and coriander. Soak the hen in the brine overnight, up to a full day.
It gets a little messy here, but it will be over quick enough. Fill the small pot with about 2/3 full of water and heat it to boiling, sprinkle a bit of pure salt in to speed things up and add a mote of flavor. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and drop in 1/4 cup of wild rice blend. Cook the rice to about 2/3 done, probably around 15 minutes.
While the rice is cooking, take the hen out of the brine and dry it thoroughly with paper towels. You'll probably need like 6 or 7 to get it done, make sure it's dry. Don't worry about keeping too much of the brine herbs on the skin at this point. Once the skin is dry, wrap it in another couple of paper towels and let the inside moisture drip out.
Grab the lemon, cut it in half, then cut the rind off the pieces. Toss a good sized piece of lemon rind in the brine, remove the Bay leaves, heat it to a boil and then turn the heat off. Scoop off the foamy scum from the top. When the rice is done cooking, drain the rice water into the cooked brine, and let the rice release some steam for a few minutes.
When the rice is cool and the hen is dry, peel some garlic. If you're not good at it just practice, you only need a handful of cloves really.
Now coat the skin with lots of salt and pepper blend, and lots of chili powder. Get it everywhere, then gently press it into the skin to help it stick. From this point on, handle the bird with care because flavor costs money, and if you smudge the coating, you're going to want to add more.
Stuff the hen with a couple pieces of rindless lemon and peeled garlic, then pack the rest of the space with the partially cooked rice. If you have fresh oregano or rosemary, go ahead and thread a bit of that in there too. Place the hen carefully into the center of your roasting pan. Add more spices if necessary to ensure full coverage. Drop in the rest of the garlic around the bird, and any remaining rice.
Ladle in some cooked brine over the bottom of the pan, and slide it into the oven. You remembered to preheat the oven, right? The temperature I'll leave up to you. Lower temps will make a juicier bird, but increase the cook time. I like to cook it for about 2 hours at around 250 degrees F. You'll probably want to try around an hour at 350 degrees.
You'll need to baste the bird every 10-20 minutes with the cooked brine. When it's done, take it out of the oven and let it rest for a spell. Then put the bird on the plate and drip however much pan sauce you want over the top. Scrape the rice and garlic from the pan onto the sides of the plate.
Eating the Bird
You'll want a sharp knife to seperate the bones, so you don't make a mess at the table. Also remember not to eat the depleted lemon masses or the herb stems from the stuffing. Now pour a cold one and enjoy your juicy game hen, the single man's turkey!