Rock Cornish Hens, from the Girl Who Can't Cook

I am not a cook, not by any stretch of the imagination. But I have almost mastered a really yummy semi-original recipe for Cornish Rock Hens. I say almost only because I realized after plopping the birds onto our plates last night that I had cooked them upside down. Ooops. With that hefty caveat, I present you with my recipe, culled from my own tastes, the poultry-cooking chart in my Betty Crocker: Bridal Edition, and a few random web searches for hen recipes.

1. Cornish rock hens are usually sold in the frozen section, and sometimes for a very good price. Plan for one bird per adult eater. But beware: just because the birds are small doesn't mean they don't require a good number of hours in the fridge to thaw. Hence the reason we did not have our feast on New Years Day.

2. Preheat the oven to 350.

3. Rinse and dry the birds, and take out the package of innards if they're still there (and to think I used to be a vegetarian!).

4. Slice off a pat of butter for each bird, sprinke them with salt, pepper, and rosemary, and insert them into the birds' cavities.

5. The fun part: mixing the marinade. For two birds, mix approximately 1/4 cup olive oil, 2-5 cloves of garlic (depending on how much you like garlic), a teaspoon or so of rosemary, three pinches of parsley, and some salt and pepper. You can use fresh or dried garlic, rosemary, and parsley. This marinade is clearly not an exact art. If you don't like rosemary, subsitute an herb you do like. Just make sure everything is nice and soaked in oil so it doesn't burn.

6. Daub, paint, splatter, and otherwise coat the birds with the marinade. Now would be a good time to check that your birds are indeed breast-side-up (I loathe to imagine the amount of search hits THAT phrase will receive). I forgot that step; do as your teacher says, not as she does.

7. According to Betty, 1-2 pounds of Cornish hens need about an hour to an hour and a quarter to cook. I like to set the timer for an hour and check on the progress. You might want to drip a few more drops of olive oil on partway through, if your seasonings are looking scorched. The poulty-cooking rule is that juices should run clear and flesh should no longer be pink. Because I am neurotically afraid of undercooked meat, I cook two for a full hour and fifteen minutes. I think four only needed an hour and half, if I remember correctly.

8. Enjoy!

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