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26 July 2006

Apricot-Ginger-Glazed Cornish Hens (Cooks Illustrated)

Apricot-Ginger-Glazed Cornish Hens

Serves 6

The skin covering the hens can be very delicate, so be careful when rubbing the butter underneath it. It is also a good idea to tie the legs together loosely to help the skin covering the joint brown.
6 Cornish hens (1 to 1 1/2 pounds each)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3/4 stick), softened
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
Table salt and ground black pepper
1 cup apricot preserves
3 tablespoons grated ginger
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 scallions , minced
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees. Discard the gizzard packets (if any) inside the hens and pat dry with paper towels inside and out. Tie the legs together loosely with butcher's twine, then carefully spread 1/2 tablespoon of the butter underneath the skin covering the breast of each hen.

2. Spray a flat wire rack with vegetable oil spray and set inside a rimmed baking sheet. Pour the broth into the pan. Lay the hens on the rack. Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons butter and brush over the hens, then season with salt and pepper.

3. Roast the hens, breast side up, until golden brown and the thickest portion of the breast meat registers 170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 45-55 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, process the apricot preserves, ginger, and red pepper flakes together in a food processor until smooth, about 1 minute. When the hens are fully cooked, brush about half the apricot mixture over them (you will have extra) and return to the oven to set, about 2 mintues.

5. Tip the hens so that the juice from their cavities runs into the pan. Transfer the hens to a carving board and let rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, scrape up any browned bits from the baking sheet and pour the juice into a saucepan. Skim any fat using a spoon, then stir in the remaining apricot mixture. Stir in the scallions and lime juice, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve one hen per person, passing the sauce separately.