This was the first dish that I prepared when I decided once and for all to become a home cook. My tiny kitchen in Scranton, PA was filled with dishes as I experimented with different spices and consistencies to make sure the glaze was the perfect balance of sweetness with a warm finish. Who was this girl I was becoming? I never went to culinary school. I never used terms like this in the past. Where was all of this creativity coming from? Just a few short months ago, I only knew how to boil pasta and pour some crushed tomatoes on it with some cheese and put it in the microwave. It was if there was this creative culinary masterful genius (in my own mind) girl waiting to be released.
Finally, I had it. I was going to impress the hell out of my mom, sister and brother in law. I was going to make a Cornish game hen with a cherry glaze (from scratch), Italian wedding soup (while grinding my own pork, veal and NY strip steak for the meatballs) and making Hazlenut gelato. In those days, those three dishes took me all day, because I didn’t really have a lot of gadgets to get me through. So, today, I will share with you my game hen and what I did to prepare it.
I took 4 of these adorably, cute, little chickens and slathered them with olive oil, sea salt and ground pepper. It’s so important to season your food, while you are cooking it. I put it in the oven for an hour and was jittery and excited. I wanted to make sure this meal was absolutely perfect, so my family would be proud of me and say, “Wow, Laura, you are really good at this”. It’s amazing how a little reassurance goes a long way with me.
I worked on the other parts of the dinner, including the glaze, but the“hour” timer went off rather quickly. The glaze was perfect. The chopped garlic in the heated glaze became candied, giving it a savory, sweet taste with a sticky consistency.
That’s another thing…taste while you cook!!! Taste everything that you cook, because you need to know what your audience will taste in order to make this a memorable meal for them.
After the hour mark, I draped the beautiful wine colored glaze all over the chicken with bits of the “now” cherry colored garlic. I let it cook for another ten minutes, while saving a good portion of the glaze, and began to place it in a dish for the “big reveal”.
My family loved it! They were surprised and happy and very quiet at first, as they enjoyed the food. It was the first time I ever made a meal like this and it was a huge success. I wanted more…I wanted to tackle complicated projects and try the recipes that always intimidated me. This was the day that changed my life forever! I became my journey as a “culinary adventurist”.
Cherry Glazed Cornish Game Hens Recipe
- 4 Cornish game hens
- Olive oil
- Salt & pepper
- 2 12 oz jar of cherry preserves
- 7 garlic cloves, diced
- 4 tsp light corn syrup
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp cloves
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- ¼ tsp cayenne (more if you can handle it)
Total time & Prep – 1.5 hours
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Put the Cornish hens on a rack in a pan and pour olive oil on top. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Put in the oven for 1 hour.
Combine preserves, garlic, corn syrup, vinegar, salt, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and cayenne in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Let it boil and mix until the glaze is thick enough to coat the spoon. Do not let it burn or get too thick. It needs to be thick enough to pour, and remain on the hens and drip off them slightly.
After an hour of cooking the chickens, take just enough of the glaze to coat the chickens and get some bits of the candied garlic on top. Let it cook for another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, make sure the internal temperature is 165 degrees.
Serve and enjoy!