Monday, November 24, 2008

The Turkey Alternative - Cornish Game Hens

With Thanksgiving and the winter holidays upon us, many of us turn our thoughts to family, friends, holiday festivities and food! Though a traditional holiday meal in many homes might include a turkey dinner with all the fixing’s, you may want to think about an alternative, especially if your holiday dinner does not include a houseful of guests.

Cornish game hens are as versatile as regular whole chickens, but give an elegant touch to your menus. They usually weigh from one to two pounds; however the standard is about 1-1/4 pounds. They are very meaty, and each hen can easily serve one or two people.

If you are serving a lot of courses or side dishes, you can probably plan one-half hen per person. They can be easily split before cooking, since the bones are not strong. Like a turkey, the giblets can also be used as standard poultry giblets in gravy.

Many markets carry fresh game hens ready to cook. Choose hens that look plump, and have unbroken, unblemished skin. Be sure to cook them within 24 hours or get them into a freezer.

When freezing fresh game hens, first remove the giblets, then wash and pat dry before wrapping in an airtight freezer bag. Make sure all the air is removed. You can keep properly-frozen game hens in the freezer at 0 degrees F. for six to nine months.

Markets that do not carry fresh game hens will usually carry frozen ones in the meat department, along with turkeys and wild game.

If you are using frozen game hens, be sure to sufficiently thaw them in the refrigerator before cooking. It’s very important to cook thawed hens as soon as possible. Never re-freeze previously-thawed uncooked hens.

Once cooked, game hens can be refrigerated for up to three days or frozen for up to one month.

For a wonderful Cornish Game Hen recipe, check out
Carlo’s Recipe of the Month “QUAGLIE IN UMIDO” on the Vivande web site.

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