Cooking poultry can be a delicious and healthy meal. While you are likely most familiar with chicken, there’s another option that you’re forgetting about – Cornish hen. Understanding the differences between Cornish hen vs chicken will help you to figure out what you want to cook for a new and exciting dinner.
What is a Cornish Hen?
A Cornish hen is also known as a game hen. It is a type of broiler chicken that is a result of being cross-bred between a Cornish chicken and a White Plymouth Rock chicken. These chickens are served young in order to keep them small and tender. The average Cornish hen will weigh no more than two pounds once it is ready to be cooked.
Despite the name, a Cornish game hen is not a game bird. Since it is less common than a traditional chicken, many people consider it to be exotic. As such, it is priced as more exotic poultry. You can expect to pay about $2 more per pound than a chicken.
What is the Difference Between Chicken and Cornish Hen?
There are quite a few differences between chicken and Cornish hens. While they are both poultry, they vary dramatically in terms of size and taste. It’s also important to note that a chicken can typically serve four to five people while a Cornish hen is usually going to serve only one person.
If a Cornish game hen were allowed to reach mature size, it would be around the same size as a broiler chicken. However, Cornish hens are slaughtered when they reach approximately two pounds. In some instances, they are kept even smaller, reaching only one pound.
A chicken, on the other hand, will vary in size based on when it is slaughtered. Broiler or fryer chickens are slaughtered at around seven weeks, placing their weight between three and four pounds. A roaster chicken is slaughtered at around 12 weeks, placing the weight at five pounds or more.
Due to the hen being eaten while it is younger, it is going to have a more tender texture than a chicken.
There are some differences that you should be aware of when it comes to nutrition.
A game hen is meant to be eaten as a single serving, which will be around three to four ounces of meat. You can expect to consume around 200 calories and 14 grams of fat.
A chicken’s nutritional value will depend on what part you are eating. The average person won’t consume an entire roast chicken in a single serving. Instead, it will be carved up to offer breasts and wings as white meat and thighs and legs as dark meat. The weight of each piece can vary dramatically, offering servings between two and 12 ounces. The average breast with the skin on will be around 380 calories and 15 grams of fat. A standard thigh with the skin on will be around 350 calories and 11 grams of fat.
The taste of a Cornish hen vs chicken is almost indistinguishable. A Cornish hen will be leaner, so that is typically the only difference that most people will notice. Some will also find the meat to be slightly juicier, too.
Where to Buy Cornish Hen
Cornish hens can be purchased in many grocery stores. They can be found in the poultry department or in the frozen section. If you can find a local farm, many will sell Cornish hens, too. Choosing to buy from farms will offer fresher options and allow you to set a weight closer to one or two pounds based on your preferences, too.
What are the Best Ways to Cook a Cornish Hen?
Cornish hens can be cooked in a few different ways. Depending on your cooking style, they can be baked, grilled, and even fried.
Baking a Cornish hen is popular when you want to stuff it. You can choose to use a long grain and wild rice mix or a traditional bread stuffing. Since hens are smaller, they don’t have to be roasted for as long as a chicken. Brush the hens with oil or melted butter and bake them for approximately 25 to 30 minutes.
Grilling a Cornish hen can produce a delicious BBQ flavor. You can choose to place your hens on a rotisserie or place them directly on the grilling grates. Low and slow is the general method so that you can either grill or smoke them. It is recommended that you grill Cornish hens for approximately 60 minutes over indirect heat so that they don’t burn.
Just as you can fry chicken, you can do the same with a Cornish hen. A traditional stockpot filled with oil can be used or you can choose to use a deep fryer. You will want to make sure that the hens stay out at room temperature so that you don’t cool the oil down. The breading you use can be as simple as flour or more intricate using poultry herbs, egg batter, and even corn flakes. Place the hen into the hot oil until it turns golden brown, which will take 10 to 12 minutes.
It’s important to remember that they are served one per person. If you’re serving four people, you will want to prepare four Cornish hens, regardless of your cooking method.