Enjoy a dish inspired by, of all things, the British occupation of India for $5.34 per person.
There are many great mysteries of the universe. What is a Black Hole exactly? Where is Jimmy Hoffa buried? Why do you always get one regular fry every time you order curly fries? And, finally, how do they come up with the price for Cornish Game Hens?
I want to know, because there seems to be no rhyme or reason behind it. Sometimes a pair of hens costs more than fifteen dollars. And sometimes they cost $3.91. No, this was not a clearance price. It wasn’t even a sale price. At least there were no sale signs in evidence on the packaging or in the aisles. And it was the exact same store only a month apart. What can possibly account for this discrepancy in pricing? I honestly believe there are mystical powers at work here. Mischievous supermarket gnomes must sneak out of the deli department and slash the prices of game hens to wreak havoc on the meat department’s bottom line. I can think of no other explanation.
Okay, okay, I’m getting a bit carried away. But the difference in price is no exaggeration. My point is this: identify the items in your local stores that fluctuate in price heavily, and snatch them up when the price drops. Frozen game hens taste just as good as fresh once they are defrosted (assuming, of course you store them in the freezer properly and don’t allow them to get freezer burn) and will keep almost indefinitely.
This way, the next time you want to make game hens for a nice dinner, you don’t have to pay the non-gnome-slashed hen price. Spareribs, pork chops, and ground lamb are other products I have noticed have some tendency to vary greatly in price from week to week. (Just make sure not to over pack your freezer. Your neighbors might get tired of storing your meats for you.)
After finding the ridiculously cheap game hens, I decided to bring them home, stuff them, roast them in the oven and glaze them.
Major Grey’s chutney is a style of chutney that was created during the height of the British empire (you know when they owned India, large sections of Africa and, I don’t know…the US?) and uses mangoes, raisins and tamarind to get it’s unique flavors. I happened to have a Trader Joe’s version of this chutney (called Mango Ginger Chutney) in my cupboard, so I decided to use that as a theme for the meal.
I had already used this chutney for a renal friendly recipe I designed for the Live & Give newsletter and decided to modify it for use on the hens. I used the same curry rub on the hen, then I roasted them. I glazed them with a mixture of the chutney and butter toward the end of cooking. I also added a little of the chutney into the pilaf I stuffed the hens with, giving the whole meal decidedly British and Indian flavors.
Imperial Indian Game Hens
2 Cornish game hens
1 box of wild rice, rice pilaf, or orzo pilaf (I used the orzo pilaf, again from Trader Joe’s because I had it on hand, but any will do)
1 jar Major Grey’s Chutney (It is a style of chutney, not a brand. I used a very similar Mango Ginger Chutney from Trader Joe’s. Yes, I shop at Trader Joe’s a lot.)
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
green onions, chopped (optional. I did not use green onions this time, because I was running low on budget room.)
1 tsp. Curry Powder
1/2 tsp. Paprika
1/2 tsp. Onion Powder
1 tsp. Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp. Ground Ginger
1/2 tsp. Cumin
salt and pepper to taste
- Prepare the wild rice or pilaf as directed on the package. Add 1 Tablespoon of chutney and the optional green onions at the last five minutes of cooking time.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Prepare the dry rub by combining all the dry ingredients.
- Rub the hens with the dry rub and olive oil, (Make sure to loosen the skin from the breast of the hens with your fingers and get a good amount of rub underneath the skin of the hens)
- Stuff the hens with your prepared wild rice or pilaf mixture.
- Place the Hens in a roasting pan and cover them tightly with foil. Roast at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, Prepare the glaze by melting the butter into the remaining chutney in a small saucepan. After the butter has melted and the chutney has heated through (about 5 minutes,) add the lemon juice and remove from the flame. (Do not continue to cook after the lemon juice has been added. Lemon juice can become very bitter if overcooked.
- After 30 minutes, uncover the hens, return them to the oven and roast them for 15 more minutes or until beginning to brown.
- After 15 minutes, spoon half the prepared glaze onto the hens. Return to the oven for 10 more minutes. Baste with the remaining glaze, and then roast 10 more minutes or until the hens read an internal temperature of 160 degrees. Serve the Chicken hens on a plate, passing pan juices on the side.
Again, this recipe works just as well for single bone-in chicken breasts as well, and is quicker to prepare. You can view the recipe here. If you do not have kidney disease or high blood pressure you may add the salt back into the dry rub, and reduce the lemon juice, if that is your preference.
Accounting: 2 Cornish Game Hens $3.91 + Trader Joe’s Orzo Pasta Pilaf $1.99 + Trader Joe’s Mango Ginger Chutney $2.29 + 1 bottle of Charles Shaw Pinot Grigio $1.99 + ½ head of romaine (chopped into a salad) $.50 + lemon (still from neighbor’s tree) = $10.68
Comes to $5.34 per person! (I’m sorry, I failed to get it quite under five dollars this time. But, there was plenty extra pilaf for two more birds, so with the purchase of 2 more birds and another bottle of chutney, you could make dinner for four for $4.10 per person. Also the chicken breast alternative can also be more affordable.)
Kitchen Basics Used: curry powder, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, ground ginger, cumin, salt, pepper, olive oil, butter