Cornish hen has traveled far
Cornish hen has flown far from Connecticut roots
Forever young: A Cornish hen is a little chicken. The U.S. Department of Agriculture currently defines it as "a young immature chicken (usually 5 to 6 weeks of age), weighing not more than 2 pounds. (Jonelle Weaver/MCT Photo)
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
16 ounces ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated lemon zest, no white attached
8 cloves garlic, chopped
3/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
3 to 5 cups chicken stock or broth
1. Mix the oil, lemon juice and half the rosemary. Place the hens in a shallow dish, skin side down; pour the mixture over. Marinate, refrigerated, overnight.
2. Toss together the breadcrumbs, ricotta, lemon rind, remaining rosemary and garlic. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Remove hens from marinade, reserving marinade. Gently slide fingers under the skin of each hen to release the skin from the surface. Spread the mixture evenly underneath the skins. Season the hen's surface with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Move the hens to a rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with some of the lemon marinade; refrigerate, uncovered, to dry the skin, 1 hour.
3. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Distribute the hens skin side up, without overlapping, in a baking pan. Roast, 1 hour. Turn birds as needed to brown all over. The hens are cooked when the thickest part of the meat registers 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from pan; degrease the juices.
4. To make a sauce, add the stock to the pan. Heat to a boil, stirring the sides and bottom of the pan. Boil until reduced to 1/2 cup per bird, about 20 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Moisten the birds; pass the remaining sauce.
Per serving: 543 calories, 37 g fat, 14 g saturated fat, 225 mg cholesterol, 8 g carbohydrates, 42 g protein, 536 mg sodium, 1 g fiber.