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Bacon-Wrapped Cornish Hens with Raspberry Balsamic Glaze

March 24, 2009

I do this fun thing with the husband where I ask him what he’d like for dinner and if he selects the wrong option, I kinda sigh and gaze wistfully into the fridge and invent little reasons why that might not work for that particular night until I’ve steered him back to a more acceptable answer.

Occasionally -nay, rarely – I figure its time to give in and make the Trout burgers Turkey burgers Chicken livers Cornish Game Hens that he’s been requesting with increasing regularity, the most recent time being right before he left for Spring Break (wooooo) and I think my excuse was something along the lines of them not defrosting in time (where do I even get these thoughts?). So in honor of him coming home from beautiful, amazing Florida and not staying south with all the pretty people, I made the damn hens. There. Happy?

You may be inclined to point out that I purchased said hens, and they’re basically only little chickens, and they don’t even have the giblets in ’em, so what’s my problem?
A few things have made me hesitant. For starters, I’ve never roasted a chicken. Shut up. Yes. For real. Why? Because it seems easy to screw up and the nice people at the supermercado roast the chickens on a spit, and then put it in a little bag for me and its always delicious. Doing it on my own is on my ever-expanding list of culinary feats to master, and I plan on doing it relatively soon (not to ruin the surprise, but its my next cookbook recipe, from Keller’s Bouchon).

Also, I’m one of those awful people that likes having interesting foods ready-to-cook at my whim in the house. And cooking them would then make them no longer be available. Classic OCD dilemma of eating cake/having it to. Although that doesn’t really work, because I always eat the cake.
Plus there’s the little problem that most of the recipes I find for the Cornish hen involve using kitchen shears to cut out the backbone/spine and then hacking it in half. And until recently I just hadn’t thought myself skillful enough to execute this maneuver. Or sadistic enough.

Whatever. The Internet provided a perfect hen recipe for the husband – roasted and wrapped in bacon with a raspberry balsamic glaze. Whenever I can incorporate “wrapped in bacon” into mealtime, the boy gets all giddy and happy. Kodos to Epicurious for making the transition into Cornish Hen extraordinaire rather easy.

The first thing about this recipe that caught my eye was the ingredient list.

  • 2/3 cup seedless raspberry jam
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 16 bacon slices (3/4 lb) – from this week’s CSA
  • 4 (1 1/2- to 1 3/4-lb) Cornish hens – from the CoOp

That’s it.

Four items. Two of them being delicious proteins. I felt good enough about this to actually throw in a cookbook recipe(!) as a side dish (that’s right – meat AND vegetables tonight, baby! No effort spared!) – the Jamie Oliver Fingerling Potatoes with sage & orange – with everything, but the oranges, coming from this week’s CSA.

As anticipated, the most intensive part of this process was the hacking apart of the hens, but that aside, the big feat was simmering the jam and vinegar in a small uncovered saucepan, then stirring occasionally until the glaze reduced to about 1/2 cup. Virtually idiot proof. That said, the jam was being an idiot and took an extra 10 minutes to reduce as far as I wanted it, but I think this probably has something to do with Smuckers not really being “jam” in the traditional sense.

I was only doing 2 Hens (instead of the recipe mandated 4), but I opted to fry up 2 pieces of bacon per Hen instead of four. It just felt like a lot of bacon for these little birds and I didn’t really feel like eating a 1/4 lb of bacon in one sitting. So that part took only a little bit of time.

Then onto the bird hacking…. which I’m mentally blocking out and moving on from. From there it was smooth sailing all around – I patted the hens dry, season with kosher salt and pepper, set them in the all-purpose roasting pan cut sides down, applied liberal amounts of glaze, and wrap a slice of bacon around each half hen, tucking ends under. I toasted the potatoes in the pan with them, and let it go to town roasting in the middle of the oven for about 30 mins.

It was definitely a late dinner. I think I got the food on the table around 8:50pm, but considering that we had hit up a 5:30p movie, this whole hen thing wasn’t a whole lot harder then normal weekend day dinners around here. And the boy liked them. A whole lot. So gold star to me.

The guys, being all ‘spring break’ –
so ok, maybe there’s a severe lacking of wet t-shirts in this photo,
but they’ve always been more of the dark bar & sunsets kinda guys.
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