The Cornish game hen is something of a conundrum. It’s not really a game bird, and on the contrary is the most common breed of commercially reared chicken. But don’t let that fool you. Call it Poussin and Coquelet to make it sound somewhat exotic, the baby chicken makes a great base for fusing Asian flavors with the sharp, malty kick of whiskey. However, crafting a complete meal out of it requires some ingenious engineering.
A little sticky rice goes a long way in rounding off the deep, rich flavors of the soy-whiskey glace that is instrumental for creating the pleasant, honeyed golden hue of the final stuffed and roasted bird. The roast’s filling also needs to reflect some of the oriental inspiration that underlines the spread. So how exactly do you piece all of this together?
For the stuffing
Dissolve the sugar and salt in a large container using 4 cups of cold water, and leave the chickens to soak in it for about half an hour. Soak the rice and mushrooms separately, reserving some of the liquid to for cooking the rice. Fry the sliced Chinese sausages, mushrooms, and chestnuts over high heat, and add the chopped ginger and garlic. Stir in the drained rice followed by the dark soy and light soy. Lightly toss before pouring in the chicken stock and reserved liquid. Leave to boil, stirring occasionally. Cook till all the liquid has been absorbed, and leave it to cool off.
Drain the birds and leave them to dry while you preheat the oven to 3750F. Before stuffing in the sticky rice mixture, season the cavity with salt and pepper. Truss or tie up the legs and set on a baking tray.
Preheat the oven to 375′F. Drain the chickens and pat dry. Season the bird’s cavity with salt and pepper, stuff with the cooled sticky rice stuffing and truss it or at least tie up the legs. Heat up a saucepan, pour in a quarter cup of water, dark soy, a cup of sugar, the remaining ginger and garlic, the whiskey, and boil till it reduces to about a fourth of it’s original volume.
Your glace is ready!
Put the baby chickens on their back, baste them with the freshly prepared glace, and roast for 45min, basting every 10 minutes with the soy glaze, until dark brown.
Remove the tray from the oven and let it rest for a few minutes before carving. Serve with pan juices.
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