The Deep Freeze Summer Challenge
When I first read Chris' post regarding this challenge and how she'd like to use up most of the foods in her fridge & freezer, I sighed to myself and wondered if I could ever empty my freezer(s). We're freeze-aholics, people. Not only do we stock up on meats when they go on sale, but we stock up on veggies, fruits, breads, ice cream, whipped cream, pre-made dinners & side dishes, etc. but we also cook more than we can eat so we can freeze the leftovers for quick meals. We own a large chest freezer, the freezer above my fridge and a freezer above the giant fridge in our garage. They are all packed to the gills. Those quick meals? Most of the time they are forgotten and/or if remembered it's usually quicker to cook up something fresh. Oh yeah, there is something wrong with us and we need a 12 step program, ASAP. Seriously.
So this was a great challenge to contribute to, as I take out meat of some sort every day. Some days I take out more, like frozen veggies or fruits, but every morning I get the not-so-fun job of picking our protein for that night's dinner. God forbid I choose chicken more than once a week. Or any meat more than once a week. So I have to try to keep track of every meal we've eaten prior to that morning.. half the time I can't fakkin remember where I've set my glasses at, yet I'm the one in charge of recalling 6 previous dinners. Whot. The. Fakk. Ever. :P
Anyhoo.. although I am not happy with that job, I did get a lil excited Saturday afternoon while he and I were discussing some kind of food topic - and in a rare moment where his brain actually thought about a future meal, he mentioned that he thought we had 2 Cornish hens in the depths of the chest freezer, and "Jeez, wouldn't that be good for dinner tomorrow night?" I about knocked him over when I tackled him with a big hug and smooch for taking the pressure off me the next morning. He even got up, walked to the freezer and dug through all the other frozen items to find the Cornish hens close to the bottom. Which is fantabulous, as I am short and he is tall, so anything lower than 5 inches in that freezer and I can't reach without taking a head dive inside it - so bless his cotton socks for not only picking out what we'd be eating but for also digging down and finding it! heheee!
We love our Cornish hens deep fried.. but deep frying isn't such a great idea when I'm trying to tame the beast called Myhipsandthighs. We were also thinking about grilling them, but the weather forecast called for nothing but rain on Sunday. So I needed to think of a way to prepare them in our oven. I wanted them to be crispedy, that was a for sure. And I had this one lonely lil lemon in my fridge that I wanted to use before he died a slow and tragic death.. so I was thinking some kind of citrus glaze.. AND THEN I looked out my kitchen window and saw my pot o'herbs and realized I had several varieties that go quite well with poultry - so a citrus and herb glaze was the answer.
I clipped a lil Thyme, and then clipped a lil Sage.. and then I looked over at my brand spankin' new Pineapple Sage plant. Have you seen these?? If you rub your fingers on the leaves, your fingers will smell like pineapples. Far fakkin out! I bought it just so I could sniff my fingers all summer - 'kay well that doesn't paint the prettiest of pictures, but overlook that - having no idea what the hell I could use it for. Perfect opportunity! Pineapple and poultry is always good, yes? So I clipped some of that as well.
Figuring I wouldn't have to cook them for as long, I halved each hen and seasoned well. Then I made a small amount of compound butter using all the herbs, which I slathered each half in. I let them bake at a higher temp for about 15 minutes before I lowered the temp and glazed them with a mixture of melted butter (I didn't use much!!), honey, lemon juice and the rest of the chopped herbs. I basted and brushed those lil babies every 15 min. until they were done and then I blasted them quickly under the broiler to crisp up the skin. YUM! This made for a crispedy, moist hen that was sweet from the honey, tangy from the lemon and savory from the compound butter.. the perfect baked Cornish hen. =)
2 Cornish hens, halved
3 TBS. butter, softened
small handful of fresh Sage, Thyme and (optional)Pineapple Sage leaves
dash of garlic powder
dash of onion powder
2 TBS. honey
1 TBS. lemon juice
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 425º, spray a baking dish with non-stick spray
After halving the hens, pat them down well with a paper towel and season both sides with salt & pepper.
In a small bowl, mix the butter with the herbs, onion & garlic powders, dash of salt & pepper. Slather each half of hen, both under and over the breast skin as well as the skin over the thigh & leg with 1 tsp. of the compound butter.
Place in prepared baking dish (I used a 9" x 13" x 2" Pyrex and they fit perfectly) and bake for 10 minutes. Lower temp to 350º
To the remaining compound butter, add honey and lemon juice and nuke for 30 seconds to melt. Stir well. Pull the hens out of the oven and brush the glaze over them, then return to bake for 15 minutes at the lower temp.
Repeat brushing the glaze on every 15 minutes until hens are done and juices run clear. Mine went for about 40 minutes total baking time. Turn off oven and turn on broiler set to high and broil the hens for 3-5 minutes or until the skin gets brown and crispedy. Keep an eye on them, as the honey will burn quickly.
My Notes: Although I'm thankful I remembered my Pineapple Sage and used it in the butter/glaze, you really couldn't taste it. If I make Cornish hens or a chicken again this summer, I'll omit the regular sage and use all Pineapple Sage to see if it makes a difference. Anyone else use this kind of sage in their cooking before? Can it be tasted or is it just a good smelling herb? Also, I went with garlic powder instead of my normal fresh garlic because I wanted garlic to be in the background and not overpowering the citrus/herb flavors. One last thing.. yes I know eating the skin is bad.. bad girl! bad! Sue me. But that's not the one last thing! If I had an injector, I would have saved a lil bit of that glaze to inject into the breast. The breast was very juicy but rather bland as breast meat can be.. so if you try this, and if you have an injector.. inject away!! :D