If you’ve ever wondered what the difference between a Cornish Rock or Game Hen and a chicken is, you’re not alone. Cornish hens are essentially just a variety of small chicken, tasting very much the same, but a little more tender. Cornish hens have an appealing appearance and are right-sized for a slightly generous, individually-sized holiday or celebratory meal presentation. This colourful recipe contrasts cooked and fresh pesto for a wonderful flavour boost that pairs perfectly with a side of rice or pasta. If you’re looking for Ontario-made Asiago, we’re huge fans of Thornloe Cheese, located in northwestern Ontario.
Arugula & Asiago Pesto: Combine arugula, parsley, cheese and oil in food processor and puree until smooth. Pulse in garlic and salt. Refrigerate half of the pesto. Set aside remaining half.
Stir together 1 tbsp (15 mL) of the oil, oregano, basil, hot pepper flakes and half of the salt. Rub all over Cornish hens. Tuck wings under back and tie legs together with kitchen string if desired; set aside.
Heat remaining oil in a deep, ovenproof skillet over medium heat and cook onion, carrot and parsley for 4 minutes or until softened. Add wine and bring to a boil for about 3 minutes or until reduced by half. Stir in tomato paste until smooth. Stir in cream and remaining salt and bring to a simmer. Place Cornish hens into skillet, breast side up, and roast in a 400°F (200°C) oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and brush all over with reserved pesto. Return to oven and roast for about 20 minutes or until hens are golden brown and juices run clear when pierced.
Spoon sauce onto plates and place Cornish hen on top. If serving 4, use kitchen shears to cut hens in half prior to plating. Dollop refrigerated pesto into sauce to serve.
Top 5 Nutrients: Vitamin K ≥266%DV, Niacin ≥99%DV, Vitamin A 84%DV, Vitamin C 58%DV, Vitamin E ≥53%DV.
*Note: Assumed all sauce and pesto is included in serving.