Thai Sweet Chili-Citrus Cornish Hens
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 shallot, minced
1 small red chili pepper (serrano or jalapeno), seeded and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon minced ginger
2/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce or reduced-sodium soy sauce
3/4 cup Thai sweet chili sauce
1 tablespoon honey
4 Cornish game hens (20 to 24 ounces each), rinsed and patted dry
1/3 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1/3 cup chopped Thai basil leaves or fresh mint leaves
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Heat oil in small saucepan over medium heat. Sauté shallot, pepper, garlic and ginger until lightly golden, about 3 minutes. Add lime juice, orange juice, fish sauce (or soy sauce), sweet chili sauce, and honey. Simmer until thickened to a glaze-like consistency, 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool.
Tuck wing tips under hens and place in an enameled cast-iron Dutch oven; brush liberally with glaze. Bake for 20 minutes; brush hens with additional glaze. Bake an additional 40 minutes or until a thermometer inserted in the meaty part of thigh registers 165 degrees, brushing with glaze every 10 minutes. Transfer hens to a cutting board and let rest 10 minutes. Cut hens in half lengthwise and arrange on serving platter; brush with any remaining glaze. Scatter cilantro and basil (or mint) over hens. Garnish with lime wedges; if desired.
Pairs Well With
The fragrance of roasted Cornish hens brings me home to the past and the present. Cornish hens simply seasoned and roasted were my mother’s signature dish. They made their appearance at every birthday, holiday or special dinner. The look of pride on her face as she carried the platter to the table is one I will never forget. Through the years Thai and Asian cuisines have stolen my heart and palate. My hens with a Thai-twist are a homage to my mother’s classic and are now one of my family’s favorite. The big difference is, we don’t wait for a special occasion to enjoy them.