Cornish Game Hens

Many things us chefs we learn in cooking is that most foods we know about today or consume these days have  had very simple origins and it amazes myself as a culinarian how much these simple humble beginning’s of our epicurean history has changed the products we eat each day . Most Culinarian historians credit chicken mogul Donald John Tyson for creating the Rock Cornish game hen by cross-breeding White Rock hens and Cornish hens in 1965. His intent was allegedly to create a specialty item at a higher price to appeal to a fast-growing contingent of consumers referred to in our contemporary times as foodies. I  had a chance to meet don Tyson and amazed how he was a visionary in the poultry world and he set standards of poultry production above other producers. Although Mr. Tyson perfected and produced Cornish game hens on a large scale production.

However, other sources credit Alphonsine and Jacques Murkowski of Connecticut for developing this small bird some ten years earlier. Their intent was similar, to breed a small chicken with mostly white meat suitable for a single serving. The Makowskys sold their business in 1967.

The U.S. patent and trademark files show no ownership filings for the breed. Perhaps the origin confusion arises as a combined result of the sale of the Makowsky business and the commercial success of Tyson in marketing these little tasty birds.

In addition to commanding a higher price, the game hens have a shorter growing span, 28 to 30 days as opposed to 42 or more for regular chicken. In spite of the higher prices for all things small these days, Cornish game hens are still quite affordable.

Two-thirds of Cornish game hens sold in the United States comes from Tyson Foods, Inc.

Cornish Game Hens Selection and Storage
Many markets carry fresh game hens ready to cook. Choose hens that look plump, with unbroken, unblemished skin, and cook within 24 hours or get them into the freezer.

To freeze fresh game hens, remove the giblets, wash and pat dry before wrapping in an airtight package with all air removed. Properly-frozen game hens can be stored in the freezer at 0 degrees F. for six to nine month

Markets that do not carry fresh game hens will carry frozen ones in freezer cases, usually sold in pairs, in the meat department along with turkeys and wild game.
Frozen game hens should be allowed sufficient time to thaw in the refrigerator before cooking. Some stores will have thawed, previously-frozen birds. It is very important to cook thawed hens as soon as possible, because you have no way of knowing how long they have been thawed. Do not re-freeze previously-thawed hens.
Cooked game hens can be refrigerated for up to three days or frozen up to one month.

Health & wellness facts of Cornish game Hens :
Cornish hens — consisting of tender, succulent light meat and conveniently sized for single servings — resemble miniature roasting chickens, which is basically what they are. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cornish hens are simply young, immature chickens weighing between 1 to 2 lbs. Like most chickens raised for meat in the U.S., they have been crossbred to incorporate the traits of Cornish gamecocks with those of White Rock hens. High in protein and various nutrients, Cornish hens are a healthy dietary choice. The Basics , A 3 1/2 oz. serving of roasted Cornish hen contains 23.30 g of protein and 3.87 g of fat. Cornish hens supply high-quality, complete protein that contains all of the essential amino acids. Protein is essential for building and maintaining blood, bones, internal organs and muscles — including the heart — and is vital for the production of hemoglobin. The majority of the fat in Cornish hens consists of heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated essential fatty acids; unhealthy saturated fat in Cornish hens makes up less than 1 g out of every 100. Cornish hens’ reasonable 134 calories per serving is more than justified by the high levels of protein, vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids they provide.

Vitamins and Minerals
With 0.075 mg of thiamine — or vitamin B1 — and 0.227 mg of riboflavin — or vitamin B2 — in a 3 1/2 serving, Cornish hens offer a good supply of these water-soluble vitamins, needed for energy production. They are also an excellent source of niacin, or vitamin B3, providing an impressive 6.273 mg. Niacin helps produce energy on a cellular level and can help lower cholesterol. The same 3 1/2 oz. serving contains 0.358 mg of vitamin B6, which assists in the breakdown of protein into amino acids. In addition, Cornish hens are a powerhouse of essential minerals, with one serving providing a whopping 20 mg of the antioxidant trace mineral selenium — needed for thyroid health — and 1.53 mg of zinc, essential for wound healing and the coagulation of blood.

Amino Acids
Cornish hens are rich in essential amino acids. With 1.405 g in a 3 1/2 oz. serving, they are particularly high in arginine. By blocking arterial plaque and increasing blood flow through the coronary arteries, arginine helps promote cardiovascular health. The same serving of Cornish hen offers up 1.980 g of lysine, needed to help build protein, form collagen and produce carnitine, which converts fatty acids to energy. Cornish hens also provide healthy levels of tryptophan, leucine and glutamic acid.

Usage and Considerations
Raw Cornish hens can contain bacterial pathogens — including salmonella, staphylococcus aureus and listeria — and must be handled carefully to avoid cross-contamination. Make chicken your last purchase in the store, taking care to select chicken that is cold to the touch, and bag it securely so juices don’t cross-contaminate other foods. Refrigerate at 40 degrees F and use or freeze within one or two days. Be careful that the raw chicken does not come into contact with other food or food preparation surfaces. Don’t rinse, soak or wash chicken before cooking. Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, measuring with a food thermometer and checking at the thickest part of the breast and under one wing.

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www.cookingwithcheftodd.com  or ChefDaigneault@twitter.com

Reference & Research Material:
Nutrition and you.com, Wikipedia.com, Self-nutrition, Healthdiaries.com Buzzel.com, Livestrong.com, Citrus industry info

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