Slow down and let the oven cast its aromatic spell

Cooking for Two

Open some wine and savor the roasting of cornish hens

March 23, 2003|By Bev Bennett | Bev Bennett,Special to the Sun

If you only use your oven to soften stale bread, then it's been too long since you've made a roast for dinner. Like most people, you're probably time-starved into making 15-minute entrees. That's understandable.

However, I urge you to preheat the oven and make a dinner that's a change from the usual breakneck cooking. Fill the house with the aroma of a slowly roasted entree. Sip a glass of wine while the food cooks and don't worry about being distracted. You don't have to constantly stir an oven-roasted dinner.

Cornish hens are one of my favorite entrees for two. The hens cook in an hour, which isn't an excessive time investment. You can find one-pound hens that each serve one person so you don't have the problem of leftovers. You can also use your favorite seasonings -- savory, sweet or hot -- to flavor cornish hens. The poultry's mild taste goes well with so many flavorings.

I like to stuff hens with dried fruit and a starch such as bread, rice or toasted couscous. Dried fruits have a refreshing tart-sweet flavor and keep their shape after roasting. The fruit gives the bread or rice better color and texture.

When using fruit in a hen stuffing, I prepare a glaze of honey, orange juice, curry and ground ginger. The mixture turns the hens' skin golden and imparts a sweet-spicy taste that complements the fruit. Baste the hens after 30 minutes of roasting and save any leftover sauce to pass on the side.

Distributed by Tribune Media Services International.

Honey-Roasted Cornish Hens With Dried Cherry Stuffing

Serves 2

Dried Cherry Stuffing (recipe follows)

two 1-pound cornish hens

2 teaspoons butter

salt, pepper

2 tablespoons orange juice

1 tablespoon honey mustard

1 teaspoon honey

1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil

1/4 teaspoon curry powder

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

Prepare stuffing, then spoon into cavities of each hen, filling completely but not packing the stuffing in.

Place hens on rack of shallow roasting pan. Spread 1 teaspoon butter over each hen and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Roast in 325-degree oven for 30 minutes.

Combine orange juice, honey mustard, honey, vegetable oil, curry powder and ginger in a cup. Baste the hens generously with orange juice mixture after 30 minutes of roasting. Hens should roast a total of 1 hour or until done. Remove hens from oven. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Dried Cherry Stuffing

1 tablespoon butter

1 medium shallot, minced

1 celery rib, trimmed and chopped

1 packed cup firm bread cubes

1/4 cup dried cherries

1/4 cup chicken broth

Melt the butter in a small skillet.

Add shallot and celery and saute 5 minutes.

Add bread cubes and toss to coat with butter.

Add dried cherries and chicken broth and toss to moisten mixture.

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