Each year I do a little reflection on what a holiday meal should be. After years of turkey and trimmings or ham, I am always looking to make something memorable that my family and friends will enjoy. The year of the lamb chops was good, it stood out from the others. This year I just happened to catch an episode of Down home with the Neeleys, and they were making Cornish Game hens with lemon pepper. I thought, "Well, I could do that, except for the lemon pepper, it seemed to ordinary to do to a beautiful little hen." So I went off on an internet search for a better idea. Paula Deen had the stuff I was looking for, and I changed her recipe to make it my own. Luckily I was able to dig some fresh rosemary out of the snow in my kitchen garden. It did make all the difference. Just so I don't ever lose this recipe- I am posting my version here. I hope you try it, it is delicious! Probably the most memorable Christmas meal since the deep friend turkey.
6 Cornish game hens -about 1 pound each (I bought frozen and defrosted them- They were fine!)
4 cloves garlic
1 (1-inch) piece of ginger, peeled
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (Paula uses peanut oil)
2 tablespoons orange juice
3 tablespoons Orange marmalade (I just used Smuckers)
1 tablespoon orange zest, minced
pats of butter ( at least one for each hen.
Fresh Rosemary- one bunch.
Rinse hens, trim off excess fat, and pat dry; salt and pepper the insides of each. Place in marinade container.
Put garlic and ginger in food processor and process until smooth.
In another bowl, mix soy sauce, honey, oil, orange juice, marmalade and zest. Add the garlic and ginger. Pour mixture over game hens, coating well. Refrigerate overnight, turning in marinade several times.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Place game hens in shallow roasting pan; pour marinade on top. Tuck a slice of orange in each hen along with a spring of rosemary. Tuck the rest of the rosemary around the hens. Put a pat of butter on each hen. Bake for 1 hour, basting every 15 minutes. Shoot some of the glaze inside each hen when you baste. Remove hens to serving platter. Pour cooking juices into small, heavy saucepan and boil for 4 minutes, or until sauce thickens. Pour over hens just before serving. Serve with wild rice and a healthy salad.