I love spring. I love the Easter holiday season of redemption and renewal. And, I love all the traditional Easter holiday foods like baked ham, scalloped potatoes, deviled eggs, green beans and a bunny cake with fluffy white icing and coconut. And, for many years I prepared this traditional meal for my family.
But now that it is just the two of us I did not want to cook such a big meal and decided instead to reach back in my archive of recipes and cook something smaller but no less yummy.
I reached for one of my favorite cookbooks from the 70’s, ‘Betty Crocker’s Cookbook’ and prepared a recipe that my family and dinner guests loved way back when. Back then the hens cost $1.00 to $1.25 dollars each. Even now the hens cost about $3.00 each which I think is still reasonable.
Oriental Rock Cornish Hens
4 Rock Cornish hens (1 to 1 ½ lbs. each)
1/3 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 cup uncooked regular rice
1 can (13 ¾ ounces) chicken broth
1 can (8 ¼ ounces) crushed pineapple, drained
Melted butter or margarine
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/8 teaspoon monosodium glutamate (I do not use this ingredient)
¼ teaspoon ginger
Thaw hens if frozen. Heat oven to 350°. Wash hens and pat dry. In medium skillet, cook and stir onion and celery in 2 tablespoons butter until onion is tender. Stir in rice and chicken broth. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat; cover tightly and simmer over low heat about 20 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed. Stir in pineapple.
Stuff hens lightly with rice mixture, fasten openings with skewers and lace shut with string. Place hens breast side up on rack in open shallow roasting pan; brush with melted butter. Do not add water. Do not cover. Roast 1 ½ hours, brushing often with melted butter.
While hens roast, stir together sugar and cornstarch in small saucepan. Stir in soy sauce, monosodium glutamate (I do not use this ingredient because Randy gets headaches when he eats foods containing monosodium glutamate.) and ginger. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir 1 minute. Cool.
Brush hens with soy mixture. Roast 20 minutes longer, brushing hens again with soy mixture. Place on warm platter; pour remaining sauce over hens or serve separately.
I added steamed asparagus and slices of fresh pineapple that I brushed with the soy mixture and broiled to finish off the meal. The hens are moist and tender with just a bit of tang to the taste that is just wonderful. A light dessert of strawberry shortcake finished off a great meal that produced raves from Randy.
This was the first time I had cooked these wonderful hens for Randy and I watched with joy as he enjoyed every morsel, licking his fingers as he devoured the entire meal. When he finished he said, “This is one of the best meals I have ever eaten. These were even better than any meal I have had on a cruise. Just great”.