Despite all my years of baking and cooking, I’ve never roasted a whole chicken. So as fall and the holidays are coming, it was time to cross this off my bucket list of dishes all cooks should learn to prepare.
Cornish game hen isn’t a “baby chicken” but is actually a hybrid between two different chicken breeds – the a short-legged, plump-breasted Cornish Game & another chicken, usually the Plymouth Rock. The US Department of Agriculture states they must be a young immature chicken (4-5 weeks), weighing around two pounds, and bred from a cross of Cornish chicken and another breed. These birds are bred for meat, as they develop a higher amount of breast meat, rather than their egg production. (Chowhound, Wikipedia).
The only sad part was the uneven skin browning. Although my roasted cornish hens have spots here and there (it’s like our skin getting freckles and sunspots in the sun!), it still tasted great despite an imperfect skin.
Perfect Roast Chicken Skin 101 (tips from Bon Appetit)
– Salting/brining helps the chicken develop a crackling golden-brown skin. Season the back of the bird, underneath the wings, between the thighs, and even inside the cavity. Let the salted chicken sit for at least a few hours.
– Don’t roast a cold or soggy chicken – Dry it off by patting with a paper towel and let it air dry (as it’s salting). After the brining and drying, let it come to room temperature before roasting.
– Layer vegetables, like onions, carrots, potatoes underneath the chicken before you roast it. The skin won’t crisp if it sits in its own juices.
– Although butterflied chicken doesn’t look as pretty, it cooks much more evenly. If you want a whole chicken for presentation, trussing (tying the legs and wings) helps keep the breast moist as the dark meat cooks
Game of Thrones Honeyed Chicken (Cornish Hen) with Mint and Cranberries
1 whole chicken or 2 cornish hens
2 tablespoons butter, melted
salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup honey
3 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries or currents
1 tablespoon butter
Preheat oven to 425 F. Pat the chicken completely dry (to ensure crispy skin). Rub the chicken down with melted butter and salt. Let it sit out for 1 hour to dry and warm to room temperature.
Bake in the oven for approximately 45 min to 1 hr until done (when the juices run clear, and the breast meat is no longer pink). Tent with foil for the first 25 minutes, when leave uncovered. Cover any parts of the chicken browning too fast with foil.
While your chicken is roasting, combine the cider vinegar, honey, mint, dried fruit and butter in saucepan and allow to simmer until the raisins plump and the sauce reduces to half its volume (30 min). When the chicken is done, spread the sauce and and fruit over the bird.
Roasted Sweet Potatoes
2 sweet potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F*. Evenly spread sweet potatoes on a baking sheet lined with foil. Sprinkle the olive oil, paprika, salt, and pepper over the sweet potatoes and toss. Bake for about 25 min, until crispy. Enjoy with the Honeyed Chicken!
*To save time and oven heat, I baked the sweet potaties at a higher temp of 425F, along side the Honeyed Chicken, and they turned out fine – just keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.