Game hens are so perfect for people that dine alone. They are easy to work with, portioned perfectly, and often on sale at a lot of grocery stores. This recipe from America's Test Kitchen's Cooking for Two cookbook is perfect for dining alone or for sharing with someone. Tom finds these little hens quite frightening, so he won't even be in the area when I am making them. But trust me, they are absolutely delicious. That being said, I cut this recipe in half.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and lets gather our ingredients.
You will need a game hen, of course, some broth, balsamic vinegar, cinnamon, ginger, parsley, brown sugar, lemon, shallot or onion, cous cous, currants or cranberries, and pistachios or pine nuts.
The first thing to do is to toast the pine nuts or pistachios. Pay no attention to my dirty stove...
Chop up the onion or shallot.
Measure out your cinnamon and ginger.
Measure your broth, cranberries, and chop up your lemon. Prepping is the most important part of a successful meal. If you have everything ready you don't have to scramble.
Cook the shallots over medium with the cinnamon and ginger for about 3 minutes.
Stir in the cous cous and cook for about 2 minutes, this smells so good you won't believe it!
Stir in the broth and bring to a simmer, get it off the heat and cover it with a lid.
That is a lid in my house, Corelle has many functions.
Once that has hung out for about 5 minutes get it into a bowl and fluff with a fork.
Stir in the nuts, cranberries or currants, lemon juice, and parsley. Add some salt and pepper and you are ready to move on to your hen.
Line a cookie sheet with foil and place a rack on it. I am just using one of my cookie cooling racks.
Behold the little hen that terrifies my husband.
Stuff that bugger with your cous cous stuffing.
Cross the legs and tie them together. I have always just used embroidery thread to tie up my chickens and hens, I don't own butcher's twine. I am sure that there is some horrifying chemical in there but so far I have suffered no problems from doing this. Season the outside of your bird well and make sure it is breast side down on your rack. Put the hen in the oven for about 25 minutes.
While the hen is in the oven we can make the balsamic glaze. I made almost the full amount of this glaze because I knew I would love it. Measure out the ingredients.
Get the ingredients in a small sauce pan over medium heat and let them simmer for about 2 minutes. It will thicken and reduce down.
Reserve some glaze for serving.
After 25 minutes pull the hen out and brush with glaze. Flip the hen over.
Brush the other side with the glaze as well. Put them back in the oven for about 20 more minutes. Having an instant read thermometer is a really good idea if you are making whole birds like this.
Crank the oven up to 450 degrees and pull the hen back out and give it one more glaze. Put the hen back in for about 10 minutes or until your instant read thermometer says 160.
Get the bird on a cutting board and give him one more balsamic bath with the glaze you reserved. Don't be alarmed if the hen looks a little over cooked, it is just the darkness of the balsamic.
I served this up with some asparagus and it was absolutely delicious and not nearly as hard as I had thought it would be. It is all about timing and making sure you have everything prepped and ready to use when you need it.