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Cooking with Balls

Updated on January 26, 2015
Beer Can Cornish Hen, Straw Frites, Heirloom Carrot Spears, Balsamic Demi-Glace.
Beer Can Cornish Hen, Straw Frites, Heirloom Carrot Spears, Balsamic Demi-Glace.

Violated Cornish Hen

Although referred to sometimes as a 'game hen', the Cornish hen is actually just an immature chicken. Also, due to it's young age when processed, it is not exclusively a 'hen', but can be male or female. It is usually cooked and served whole, sometimes de-boned, which by the way is a pain in the balls.

We decided that such a delicate bird should not escape the fate of it's elders. Thus the violated hen. Beer can chicken. Only issue being the size of the bird itself. Fortunately for us the geniuses at Molson's brought us the cold shot. A 250ml can of beer which fits snugly into the back end of a small bird when cleaned.

So procedure wise, this is fairly simple. Season the bird inside and out (in our case it was just salt and pepper on the outside, ancho powder, garlic and oregano inside). Pop open the beer can. and slide the hen down the can as far as possible. Ensure that the can is OPENED. Trust me you do not want to put a pressurized can of beer in the oven for an hour. Or maybe you do, who knows. Another issue with this is the circumference of the can, which with a small bird impaled on it becomes rather unstable. A muffin pan suffices as a stand, also allowing you to stand up 5 or 6 birds in a 12 unit pan. Make sure the oven racks are positioned to allow for the height of the hens. 350 degrees for about and hour should do it. Or for the untrained eye, until a thermometer reads 180 degrees.

Let them cool a little before attempting to remove the cans. Cans are aluminum. Aluminum conducts heat. Heat burns things. Hands and fingers more specifically. Also 200 degree beer is balls, so be careful. Once you have un-violated the hens without medical attention, you are good to go.

Post violation, pre cooking.
Post violation, pre cooking.
Post violation, post cooking.
Post violation, post cooking.

We chose to do straw frites, which are essentially just thin cut fries, blanched (cooked almost through at a lower temperature), then finished at a higher temp. And heirloom carrot spears, which are simply cut long and thin and roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper. Balsamic vinegar reduced into a veal demi-glace as a finishing sauce. The garnish in the finished photo is amaranth sprouts. Beautiful, but balls for handling and holding. Looks nice though.

Several dozen birds were harmed in the making of this. As a disclaimer, I also take no responsibility for injuries incurred by anyone reading this. Cheers!


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