Games hens are a bit fancier than chicken. Everyone gets half of a mini chicken, which is really what a game hen is. My grandmother wouldn't eat them because she thought they were baby chickens (yet, she ate veal; go figure). They really are mini-chickens, a hybrid of Cornish and Rock chickens. Many people who don't like dark meat like game hens better because game hens are all white meat. Also, the ratio of meat to bone is much higher than chicken. As an avowed lover of dark meat, I find the meat on a game hen better than chicken breast meat. It seems to stay moister and this recipe certainly helps because it's a moist heat method. No, there won't be crispy skin with this method. You can always remove the skin after braising if that bothers you.
Game hens are a little pricey, about $4 each at my local supermarket (though they often go on sale for $3.50 each). But, boneless chicken breasts are about the same price. I think game hens are worth it, especially for a special dinner. These would be great served with our Coconut-Ginger Rice.
Heads up if you have never made game hens before: almost all of them are sold frozen these days, so look for them near the frozen turkey. It takes about 3 days for a game hen to thaw in the fridge, so you'll need to plan ahead.
Soy-Braised Game Hens
(serves 4; total cost is $9.60)
2 Cornish Game Hens, 22 oz. each (the most common size)1 tbl Chopped Garlic, about 4 large cloves
1 tbl Chopped Ginger
¼ cup Soy Sauce
3 tbl Honey
½ tsp Sweet Paprika
1 ½ tsp Siracha Sauce, optional
½ tsp Kosher Salt
Preheat oven to 350℉. Combine the garlic, ginger, soy sauce, honey, paprika, Siracha sauce(if using), and salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil then remove from heat.
Put the hens in a casserole dish that is just big enough to hold them. Pour the soy sauce mixture over the hens and into the cavity. Cover tightly with foil.
Place casserole dish in the oven and bake for 50 minutes. Remove the foil and cook for another 20 minutes.
Cut hens in half to serve. Serve any sauce in the casserole dish as a dipping sauce. Serve hot or cold (if serving cold, skim off the fat from the sauce and reheat).