Well, I bought, air-fried, and ate my first Cornish game hen the other day. It was delicious, falling off the bone, but not really any better than the other chicken I had air-fired. I wanted to see why these birds were Cornish, really small, and obviously been hunted by sportsmen (game hens).
The Cornish, first known as the Indian Game chicken, was developed around 1820 by Sir Walter Raleigh Gilbert of England. General Gilbert claimed to have produced the breed from crossing the Red Aseel over a Black Breasted Red Game of the Lord Derby type. The original purpose was to combine the power of the Aseel Game with the speed of the English game.
Connecticut farmers Jacques and Alphonsine (Therese) Makowsky cross-bred the standard Cornish chicken with a White Plymouth Rock hen and a Malayan fighting cock in the 1950s. The result was dubbed the Rock Cornish Game Hen.
They are USDA-approved as broiler chickens and mature quickly having large breasts and fatty skin. A Cornish game hen must weigh between 1 and 2 pounds, typically coming in at about 1 1/4 pounds.
They have to be slaughtered before five weeks of age and can be male or female. Cornish Game Hens are hybrids. Therefore they do not recommend breeding, as they will not produce the same high quality in the next generation and due to the extreme rate of growth, they will be too large at the time of sexual maturity to breed successfully.
The musician and comedian Victor Borge was an early investor in and promoter of the concept, leveraging his personal popularity to transform the dish from an exotic menu item into a common household meal. Cornish chickens are not prolific egg layers. Generally, they lay fewer than 160 eggs per year. These eggs are small and brown. … Instead, they are a meat chicken, which you are very likely to love as it usually has a stronger flavor than other breeds.
If they are not killed early for food they may live for 5 to 7 years but tend to have health problems. Bottom line is that they are only Cornish in name, can be male or female, and are not game birds. It’s all a delicious lie.
In general, roast Cornish game hen in a 450 F oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest breast meat registers 155 F. After you pull the chicken from the oven, tent it with foil and let it rest undisturbed for at least 10 minutes to let the temperature come up another five to 10 degrees.
To achieve an extra-crispy skin, apply a glaze: Start the hen in a 450 F oven for about 25 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350 F for another 25 minutes, adding the glaze, if using, with about 15 minutes left.