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Cornish Game Hen vs Older Regular Chicken - Do you have a preference?

fldhkybnva Mar 20, 2013 02:50 PM

It is my understanding that a Cornish Game Hen is just a younger, thus smaller chicken. Aside from perhaps a preference for smaller or more individual servings, is there any reason you prefer one or the other?

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  1. Becca Porter RE: fldhkybnva Mar 20, 2013 03:09 PM

    I'm pretty sure it's another type of chicken altogether.


    4 Replies
    1. re: Becca Porter
      Bacardi1 RE: Becca Porter Mar 21, 2013 02:58 PM

      As posted several times above, it's a hybrid cross between two different chicken breeds - a Cornish or English Game & a Rock.

      1. re: Bacardi1
        earthygoat RE: Bacardi1 Mar 21, 2013 05:02 PM

        A "Cornish Game Hen" is butchered at about 4 weeks of age. If you let those little "hens' grow for another 3-6 weeks you will get fryers and roasters. After 12 weeks of age, these birds put on a lot of fat, or their hearts/legs have given out. Yes, the origins are from Cornish and Rock crosses, but the hybrids the industry uses today are very far removed from the originals. We had the heritage Cornish and Rock breeds on our farm and when they cross bred, their offspring was nothing like what you would get from today's meat breed.

        1. re: earthygoat
          Will Owen RE: earthygoat Mar 21, 2013 06:31 PM

          When we lived in Nashville there was a store that carried Empire Kosher frozen Cornish hens that were about the size of a small fryer and quite fat. Being Kosher there was no point in brining, or even salting them, and they quickly became my favorite available poultry. Here in SoCal, unfortunately, they do not exist.

          1. re: earthygoat
            Puffin3 RE: earthygoat Dec 21, 2013 07:05 AM

            Yeah I had the heritage breeds once also. I prefer a cornish game hen over a chicken any day. Better texture/better taste/a LOT more meat on the bone.
            I do a quick salt brine then 'low and slow' at 200 F. Then a wicked hot quick broil to crisp the skin.http://www.feathersite.com/Poultry/CG...
            Notice the amount of leg and thigh meat

      2. foodieX2 RE: fldhkybnva Mar 20, 2013 03:14 PM

        to me they are two different animals (pun intended)

        I would never plan a roast chicken dinner and then sub cornish hens and visa versa.

        Even though the flavors are similar the end results (in my repertoire) are very different so I don't prefer one to another, I like both. To me they are like comparing pork loin to pork chops or ground steak to a whole steak.

        1 Reply
        1. re: foodieX2
          EWSflash RE: foodieX2 Mar 21, 2013 07:42 PM

          I find them to be universally bland. Not to mention sad.

        2. Bacardi1 RE: fldhkybnva Mar 20, 2013 03:21 PM

          "Cornish Game Hens" aren't just "younger smaller chickens", they're a specific breed of chicken meant to produce a larger more broad-breasted bird at a younger age. In fact, they really aren't any younger than regular chickens when they go to market - just shaped differently.

          Frankly, I've never discerned any appreciable difference in flavor, but will admit that a perfectly-cooked nicely-browned Cornish Hen (& "hen" is really a misnomer - both sexes are used for meat) is very attractive on the plate, whether served whole or halved, depending on size.

          1. Will Owen RE: fldhkybnva Mar 20, 2013 03:26 PM

            They're a hybrid of a small wild chicken and Plymouth Rock, is how I heard it. I have served split grilled or roasted halves to company at informal sit-down dinners, and once or twice split halves baked on a bed of dressing. But they aren't as useful for an extended chicken dinner as a larger fowl, as they don't throw the same quantity of pan juices for the gravy, and carved pieces give the diners more choices and easier eating, especially if you live with a person who believes that knife and fork is the only permissible way to eat any chicken …

            2 Replies
            1. re: Will Owen
              Bacardi1 RE: Will Owen Mar 20, 2013 03:41 PM

              Not a "small wild chicken", but the Cornish or Old English Game chicken (one of several breeds initially bred for fighting), crossed with the Plymouth Rock.

              1. re: Bacardi1
                EWSflash RE: Bacardi1 Mar 21, 2013 07:40 PM

                Yes, a cross between the Cornish and Plymouth Rock breeds, bred for incredibly accelerated growth, in fact if they should happen to bypass slaughtering age they can't support their own weight due to being so young and having such a disproportionate muscle weight ratio.
                Personally, I am reminded of watching "Eraserhead" and since I had my own backyard laying flock I don't care for chicken, especially if it looks like a chicken. Especially the little ones. I remember holding the baby chicks in my hands and well, you know the rest. What can I say? I'm a city girl.

            2. h
              hankstramm RE: fldhkybnva Mar 20, 2013 10:41 PM

              I've found that with most "game hens", they come frozen or cyrovac sealed. They're decent. I usually give them a 4-6 hour brine and then roast them Zuni/Keller style. People rave about them. One little detail, while they come to room temp, I place an ice pack under the breast to keep it cold. Makes the breast less over cooked come dark meat's proper temp.

              4 Replies
              1. re: hankstramm
                fldhkybnva RE: hankstramm Mar 21, 2013 05:41 AM

                I have been eye-ing the Zuni recipe, it seems so simple but must be delicious because everyone seems to love it

                1. re: fldhkybnva
                  hankstramm RE: fldhkybnva Mar 21, 2013 10:24 PM

                  I've been making it for years. Follow it to the T, and you're guaranteed an amazing bird. You can skip the bread salad, although it is an amazing addition.

                  1. re: hankstramm
                    fldhkybnva RE: hankstramm Mar 22, 2013 07:47 AM

                    Is there anything in particular that you like vs. other recipes?

                    1. re: fldhkybnva
                      hankstramm RE: fldhkybnva Apr 1, 2013 09:55 PM

                      Fldhkybnva, it's much tastier since the bird is dry brined with herbs under the skin. With the cornish hens, I don't usually do the whole Zuni treatment, just a quick brine, but if I were to, the meat takes on a different texture and flavor from osmosis (reverse I believe) bringing the moisture which has mingled with the fresh herbs back in to the meat. Makes a superior breast at the least.

              2. Kholvaitar RE: fldhkybnva Mar 21, 2013 06:11 AM

                I prefer the Regular Chicken--Because they have more knowledge of the world, they study to be good, and the compunction is less. Having eaten a Cornish Game Hen may give you frequent bitter reflection; none of which can attend the making of an old bird happy.

                They are so grateful!!

                1 Reply
                1. re: Kholvaitar
                  Scream RE: Kholvaitar Dec 21, 2013 01:02 AM

                  I can't believe no one caught your words as being Franklin's words about older women! LMAO

                2. Michelly RE: fldhkybnva Mar 21, 2013 08:07 AM

                  We're a family of 3, so I tend to prefer what I call "CG Hens" because they're very easy to just defrost, baste with butter and herbs, and throw into the oven for a relatively short time of roasting. My husband eats the smaller one, and my daughter and I split the bigger one.
                  For a more planned dinner with ample leftovers, I will use a regular chicken, but I rather dislike dealing with a larger bird...it seems that whenever I've got my hands covered in raw bird, the phone or the doorbell rings.

                  1. babette feasts RE: fldhkybnva Mar 21, 2013 07:44 PM

                    The younger regular chickens are called poussin: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poussin_...

                    1. o
                      ospreycove RE: fldhkybnva Mar 24, 2013 06:21 AM

                      A Cornish Game Hen is a young (30-40 days) Cornish X Rock, a hybrid bird, bred for its explosive growth! Factory farms can slaughter these fully grown birds in 7-8 weeks, allowing them to get older causes problems due to their huge breasts, inability to stand/walk, and heart attacks plague older birds.

                      In the USA, Poussin, Game Hens, Baby chickens, etc. are all 4-5 week old Cornish X Rock Hybrids. The breast meat is very soft and bland as they are confinement grown, meaning they have very little space to move around. A true free range, (meaning raised outside and allowed to pasture) heritage breed bird is far superior in taste and texture; not to mention it is humanely raised, not subjected to a short life in a feces filled factory farm.

                      1. l
                        Linda VH RE: fldhkybnva Dec 21, 2013 07:48 AM

                        I like Cornish better but my DH likes chicken better so we have chicken.

                        1. s
                          sueatmo RE: fldhkybnva Dec 21, 2013 07:50 AM

                          I love a good roast chicken. Cornish game hens are OK, but I prefer the chicken.

                          1. h
                            HillJ RE: fldhkybnva Dec 21, 2013 07:54 AM

                            If you are cooking for one, need a small portion for yourself or a recipe, a cornish hen can be a nice alternative. They also are far more affordable. When we would make meals for the senior center they raved about the roasted cornish hens.

                            1. x
                              xoxoma RE: fldhkybnva Jul 15, 2014 11:41 AM

                              Cornish hens have been crossbred to produce a small, meaty bird which is butchered at 4-6 wks. However, today's standard fryers are probably not much older. My daughter picked up her 4-H chicks the first of June. 6 wks later, at the Fair , they were big enough for fried chicken even though they had not fully feathered out!
                              Although the taste of Cornish hens and fryers is similar, they are definitely different breeds.
                              My question is different. For over 20 years, I have served whole Cornish hens as one of the entrees at our church dinner theater stuffed with herbs and spices,basted with orange marmalade.. They used to be a trim 1 lb. which would translate to about 8 oz. of meat. Lately, I am only finding birds 22 oz. or more. The whole bird is rarely eaten by one diner. Do I have to start serving halves or does someone know a source of smaller birds?

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