Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cornish Game Hens: What are Those Tiny Turkeys?

For starters, a "Cornish game hen" isn't any kind of turkey.

And, if you believe the San Francisco Chronicle, they weren't bred before the 20th century.
"Te Makowsky -- original breeder of the Rock Cornish game hen"
San Francisco Chronicle (December 1, 2005)

"Alphonsine "Therese" Makowsky, the original breeder of the Rock Cornish game hen and a pioneer of frozen food recipes, died Oct. 30 at her home in Danville. She was 92.

"Known to her family and friends as Te, she was born in the small farming hamlet of Trois Veveres, France. She lived a fascinating life, moving to Paris as a young teenager, later fleeing the Nazi regime, establishing a chicken farm in Connecticut and coming up with the idea of producing a small, plump bird hailed by gourmets around the world...."
Here's another look at the history of Cornish Game Hens. One that involves Cornwall. That's a place that's not in California. It isn't even in America.
"Cornwall: Its Legends and Legacies" (March 29, 2006)

"...But it's the Cornish hen that my historical meandering has finally led us to.

"Cornish hen is a breed of poultry that originated in Cornwall. According to the USDA, a Cornish hen is a chicken of Cornish ancestry, six weeks of age or younger, and weighing less than two pounds. Smaller than other poultry they have short legs and broad breasts. Their flesh is succulent and they provide a proportionately high amount of breast meat for their diminutive stature. Cornish hens are regularly bred with other chickens to produce a range of commercial fowl. For example, the chicken mogul Donald Tyson created the Rock Cornish hen in 1965 by cross breeding Cornish hens with White Rock hens. Rock Cornish hens tend to be a little larger than regular Cornish hens. And don't be fooled by the word 'hen.' Your Cornish hen may actually be a Cornish rooster...."
Imagine that! Cornish hens originating in Cornwall. What are the odds?

Back to the San Francisco Chronicle:
"...A Saturday Evening Post article from July 1955 credited Mrs. Makowsky with coming up with the idea to breed the Cornish game chicken, a small bird with short legs and a plump, round breast that she had discovered in a book...."
(San Francisco Chronicle)
And, with that image of someone opening a book and discovering a chicken inside, I leave the American newspaper.

It Came From Cornwal

Sounds like the title of a weirder-than-usual horror flick, doesn't it?

Seriously, San Francisco Chronicle notwithstanding, Cornish hens didn't emerge into the world of Men out of a book in America.

The Columbia Encyclopedia says that the breed originated in Cornwall, but didn't hit the big time until American breeders started the sort of massive mass-production that this country is known for. (I don't mind, by the way. I live in America, where food production and distribution efficiencies keep food prices down, and make this country a major food exporter.)

The USDA defines a Cornish hen as a sort of chicken:

"...A Rock Cornish game hen or Cornish game hen is a young immature chicken (usually 5 to 6 weeks of age), weighing not more than 2 pounds ready-to-cook weight, which was prepared from a Cornish chicken or the progeny of a Cornish chicken crossed with another breed of chicken...."

None of which changes the fact that a Cornish hen, on the table, looks like a subcompact turkey.

Yes, Virginia, There are Cornish Game Hen Thanksgiving Recipes

Of the plethora of recipe collections that connect somehow with Thanksgiving, and involve these tiny chickens, I picked the following to highlight. I haven't tried any, but they look - interesting: And, another video:

"Cornish Game Hen Thanksgiving Dinner Recipe : How to Marinade Cornish Hen"

expertvillage, YouTube (October 22, 2008)
video, 1:29

"How to marinade a Cornish hen for a dinner recipe; tips, trick and more in this free online cooking video taught by an expert chef.

"Expert: David Postada
"Bio: David Postada is the chef and owner of the Big Easy Catering company in Santa Barbara, CA.
"Filmmaker: Diana Bacon"

It's like the title says: "How to marinade a Cornish hen for a dinner recipe" - not what ingredients to use, or how to prepare them. Still, useful for showing how to apply the marinade.


No comments:

Unique, innovative candles

Visit us online:
Spiral Light CandleFind a Retailer
Spiral Light Candle online store

Pinterest: From the Man Behind the Lemming

Top 10 Most-Viewed Posts

Today's News! Some of it, anyway

Actually, some of yesterday's news may be here. Or maybe last week's.
The software and science stuff might still be interesting, though. Or not.
The Lemming thinks it's interesting: Your experience may vary.
("Following" list moved here, after Blogger changed formats)

Who Follows the Lemming?


Family Blogs - Blog Catalog Blog Directory