Growing up, Cornish Game Hens were "guest food". You didn't make them for yourself at home on a Monday night, no this was "special chicken" that you saved and made for company. Anytime I saw recipes for them in magazines it was always surrounded by your best linens and china with guests and hosts all dressed up. It wasn't food just two of you ate on the couch in front of the TV while wearing jeans (or pajamas if you've really had a bad day). Around our house, we make game hens for 'just us' all the time now.
I picked this recipe because Mr. L had picked up a couple of pre-packaged game hens while at Safeway. None of the recipes I was coming across in my unused cookbooks sounded simple and tasty enough so I decided to cook from the Great Food Fast book again.
The recipe called for four game hens at 1 to 1 1/4 pounds each. I only had two at about a pound each so I cut the recipe in half. Sort of. I was to lazy to get out my scale to figure out how much the grapes I had weighed so i just threw in enough to cover the bottom of the pan. In retrospect, this was probably twice as much as was needed. Mr. L, though he liked the taste of the finished dish, wished for more shallots and less grapes.
I didn't expect a lot of flavor from the pre-packaged hens but they turned out to be very nice. I liked the taste of the chicken with the warm grapes.
I was a bit concerned about the grapes. They came in these Ziplock bags and I had to dig to find a bag that didn't seem to be going bad, but the ones I used were fine (I did use both red and green seedless but I don't remember what type).
ROASTED CORNISH HENS WITH GRAPES
1 1/2 pounds mixed red and green seedless grapes
8 shallots, root end intact, halved if large
6 springs thyme, plus additional leaves for hens
2 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse salt and fresh ground pepper
4 Cornish game hens
(1 to 1 1/4 pounds each)
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the grapes and shallots with the thyme sprigs, olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Tie the legs with kitchen twine; nestle the hens among the grapes on the baking sheet, breast side up. Season the hens generously with salt and pepper; sprinkle with thyme leaves.
Roast, basting the hens occasionally with the pan juices, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the leg (avoiding the bone) registers 160 degrees F, 30 to 35 minutes.
Note: The cookbook says you can substitute four bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts (10 to 12 ounces each) for the Cornish hens.
Note: This reheated very well for lunch the next day. I was worried about the grapes being reheated but they were fine.