Friday, June 17, 2011

Apricot-Honey Glazed Cornish Hens

Two Glazed Roasted Hens with Sauce
Roasted Glazed Hens and Sauce

Recipe by Robin, inspired by Hawaii Kai Cookbook

After I made Apricot Jam, I had an inspiration to make apricot-honey-glaze to bake on some Cornish hens I'd defrosted, so I looked for a recipe similar to my idea. After a thorough online search, found one in a surprising source, the Hawaii Kai Cookbook. This is a collection of  Hawaiian-inspired recipes prepared at New York City’s Hawaii Kai Restaurant, in the 1960s. While this retro cookbook is more of historical than practical culinary value these days, it does contain some recipe gems. [Read my Goodreads review]

The original recipe, Kona Cornish Hens Island Style, called for a stuffing of tropical fruits, nuts, and plum brandy sauce. I eliminated this because I wanted to test my glaze idea first. I would like to try a version with local ingredients like plum, apricot, and almonds in place of the mango, pineapple, and macadamias. The original glaze used guava jelly, honey, and a whopping ½ cup of soy sauce. I substituted a little salt for the soy, reduced the amount of honey, kept the cinnamon, and did not use the optional rum.

In my quest to reduce energy use/carbon footprint, I used the convection oven instead of heating up my regular oven. The hens barely fit, and I got my oven mits sticky with glaze every time I basted. The oven also cooled down too much every time I opened it up to baste. Next time I’d bake in the regular oven, with some potatoes and/or a veggie casserole to take full advantage of the increased energy use.

UPDATE: July 30, 2011: For stuffing see Apricot-Plum Stuffing for Apricot-Honey Glazed Hens.

Glaze Applied to Hen with Small Rubber Spatula
Applying the Glaze Before Baking
Apricot-Honey Glazed Cornish Hens
serves 4 - 6

2 Cornish game hens, about 1.5 lbs. each
salt and pepper
¾ - 1 cup chicken stock, approximately
l tsp. cornstarch

½ c. low-sugar apricot jam
¼ c. honey
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. lemon juice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Wash and dry the hens inside and out. Set hens breast-side-down in baking dish (to keep breast meat moist). Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Combine glaze ingredients in a small bowl: apricot jam, honey, cinnamon, salt, and lemon juice. Brush or spread onto hens, inside and out. (Note that I used a small rubber spatula.)

Roast hens in 400 degree oven for 45 minutes, basting or brushing with the glaze every 10 minutes. To ensure even roasting, I also turned the baking pan every time I basted, a suggestion from the original recipe. Perhaps this isn’t necessary these days, except in convection ovens. ;-)

Reduce oven heat to 325 degrees. Remove hens from oven and add ½ cup chicken stock to pan, scraping browned bits from pan corners with spoon. Depending on the size of your baking pan, you might have to add a bit more stock. Be sure that stock covers the bottom of the baking pan.

Making the Sauce
Return hens to oven. Roast for another 30 minutes, approximately. Check stock level during this time, and baste if you’d like a thicker glaze. Hens are done when they look browned and the leg joint moves easily when tugged.

Remove hens to serving plate, and keep warm. Make sauce if desired: Stir liquid in baking pan, scraping up browned bits, then scrape into a saucepan. Add some more stock if needed to make about ¾ - 1 cup. Mix cornstarch with a little water, and stir in briskly. Heat on medium-high, stirring constantly till mixture becomes clear and thick, about 5 minutes. Serve sauce with hens.

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