Ralphs Grocery store was having a sale on Rock Cornish Hens for dirt cheap in the middle of January. Naturally, I had to take advantage of the situation (given the fact that I was about to get my last “full-time employment” paycheck soon). The thing is, I’d never bought these little birds before because they were always so pricey and thus really wasn’t sure what to do with them.
I checked my cookbooks. No mention of these hens. So, I went online and discovered why my cookbooks don’t mention them: They’ve only been around since the mid-1960’s! I also found out that, according to About.com, Rock Cornish Hens are really just small chickens that Tyson bred for the upscale market. Ah-ha! This information provides me with the ammunition I need to try out a whole slew of vintage recipes.
One thing I’ve noticed about older recipes is that the size of the chicken they call for is puny by today’s standards. They call for chickens that are about 2 pounds. Have you SEEN the size of chickens for sale in the grocery meat department? I have a hard time finding anything under 5 pounds. But now, I can take advantage of sales and use Rock Cornish Hens (or, as they are often called, Cornish Hens) in those recipes. Cornish hens usually come frozen with two birds to a pack (at least in my neck of the woods) so I may be able to get two meals out of one package.
As I was looking for “the perfect recipe” to adapt for my first experience with these small chickens, I came across a Broiled Chicken Barbecue recipe from June, 1952, by Mrs. Nona Barbaric from Shinnston, West Virginia. I know most parts of the country have been having unrelenting snow, ice, and frigid temperatures but here in Los Angeles, we keep having heat wave after heat wave. It is like Mother Nature collected all of the heat and is blowing it our way. When I prepared this dish, the daytime temp was in the 80’s, so it felt like a perfect day for a barbecue.
I’d show you a photo of how my version turned out except that My Honey thought that I’d already taken the photos and took some bites out the chicken (he couldn’t wait). This recipe does require you to stay attentive to the chicken for 45 minutes, but it is an otherwise easy-peasy recipe. I served it with potato salad and crudites. A perfect warm Sunday evening meal.
Here is my version of Broiled Chicken Barbecue:
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 Tablespoons horseradish
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 Tablespoon ketchup
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
3/4 teaspoon chili sauce
2 Rock Cornish Hens, split
Combine all ingredients except chicken; heat to boiling. Place chicken halves, skin side down, on rack in broiler pan. Brush with sauce. Broil 5-7 inches from heat 40 to 45 minutes. Turn halves and baste with sauce every 10 minutes during broiling. Makes 4 servings.