Rock Cornish Hens are usually sold frozen as individual hens, or in packages that contain two hens. Look for them in the frozen food section of a grocery store in the same general area with frozen turkeys and frozen ducks. In the year 2018 these hens usually cost between $2.50 to $3.00 per pound. One hen will feed two or three people.
The first time I baked Rock Cornish Hens Cordon Bleu was in 1989. I was amazed at how simple it was to produce a gourmet dish that had a remarkably delicious flavor. I continued to prepare Rock Cornish Hens occasionally and a few years later one of the members of my extended family was very disappointed with the taste of these hens.
Fortunately I had learned many years earlier that everyone does not like the same foods. Therefore I was not shocked to discover that someone in my extended family did not enjoy one of my recipes. The reason I was not shocked was because I had already learned that my own children had their own individual taste preferences. Usually all my children really enjoyed everything I cooked. However, my basic Italian lasagna recipe caused one of my children serious indigestion and he still will not eat lasagna today, regardless of who prepares it. Except for my son, everyone else who has eaten my Italian lasagna has commented very favorably on my recipe.
In February of 2018 I searched the internet to see how other people were preparing Rock Cornish Hens Cordon Bleu. I found lots of different recipes for Rock Cornish Hens, including baked, grilled, whole, and cut into pieces and fried. But even though I changed my search words I could not find a Rock Cornish Hens Cordon Bleu recipe anywhere on the internet. This is one of the reasons I decided to include this recipe here in my Gourmet Recipes section on my website.
The other reason I decided to post it was because my recipe includes a variation that I call "Imitation Rotisserie Chicken." I am fully aware that baking a hen is not the same thing as rotisserie cooking a hen. However, the appearance and the taste of these baked hens is so very close to the Rotisserie Chickens sold in the deli sections of the stores in my area (without the cheese and ham), that I decided to mention that fact in my recipe (even though I will receive a lot of criticism for making this statement).
Generally on the internet the word "copycat" is used to refer to an imitation recipe. In my Gourmet Cookbook I decided to not use the word "copycat" because it implies something that is identical, or almost identical, to the real thing, similar to a photocopy. Instead I use the word "imitation" in my Gourmet Cookbook because the word "imitation" clearly means something that is absolutely not identical but only close to something else.
Rock Cornish Hens Cordon Bleu (2 Hens or 4 Servings),
or Imitation Rotisserie Chicken
2 frozen Rock Cornish Hens
2/3 c. chicken broth
3/4 c. Swiss cheese, 1/4 inch cubes
1/2 tsp. iodized salt
3/4 c. baked ham, 1/4 inch cubes
1/8 tsp. fine grind black pepper
2 T. butter
1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning
Trivia: Rock Cornish Hens are sometimes referred to as Rock Cornish, or as Cornish Hens, or as Cornish Game Hens. Mrs. Alphonsine Therese "Te" Makowsky mated White Plymouth Rock chickens with Cornish Game chickens on their family 200 acre “Idle Wild Farm” in Connecticut in the early 1950s and the result was the Rock Cornish Hen. The hens were plump and succulent with all white meat. Although they are called hens they may be either male or female.
Trivia: In French the words "cordon bleu" literally mean "ribbon blue." In the 1700s during the reign of the Bourbon Kings it referred to the sky blue ribbon that was worn as an Emblem by the Knights of the Holy Ghost, the highest order of Knighthood in France. Later it was used to describe a cook that adhered to the highest standards of cookery. Today it is used to describe a dish of either veal or chicken, rolled, filled with cheese and either ham or bacon, breaded, and then either fried or baked.
Imitation Rotisserie Chicken: Omit the Swiss cheese and ham. For a traditional flavor use the poultry seasoning. For other flavors, omit the poultry seasoning and instead use Barbecue seasoning, or Cajun seasoning, or Italian seasoning, or Tex-Mex seasoning.
Instructions: Thaw frozen hens in the refrigerator for at least one day before cooking. If present, remove the giblet package inside the hen after thawing. Rinse the inside and the outside of each hen under cold faucet water. Pat dry with a paper towel.
Mix half the Swiss cheese with half the ham and stuff it inside the cavity of one hen. Mix the rest of the Swiss cheese with the rest of the ham and stuff it inside the cavity of the other hen.
Use your index finger to gently lift up the skin on each side of the tail opening on each hen a little ways and insert 1 tablespoon of butter (in small slices) under the skin against the breast meat of each hen and push it towards the neck opening under the skin. Lower the skin back down onto the butter. Put hens breast side up on nonstick aluminum foil inside a roasting pan with the legs and wings trapped under the hens against the foil. Pour chicken broth evenly over both hens. Sprinkle salt, black pepper, and poultry seasoning on the outside of both hens. The hens should not touch so they will roast properly. Cover pan with its lid or with nonstick aluminum foil.
Hens 17 ounces of less should be baked a total of about 60 minutes.
Hens 18 ounces or more should be baked a total of about 75 minutes.
Bake for 30 minutes in a preheated 350°F oven. Remove lid and spoon the broth from the broiler pan back on top of the hens. Return to oven without the lid. Continue to baste every 15 minutes until done. During the last 10 minutes increase oven temperature to 400°F to brown the hens. Stick a knife into the thickest part of the thigh and if the juice runs clear it is done. Or use an instant read meat thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh and if it reads 180°F it is done.
Remove from oven and cover with the pan lid or with aluminum foil and let rest for 10 minutes. Cut in half down the breast from neck to tail and serve. Scoop the cheese and ham out of the cavity onto the serving plates. Enjoy the cheese and ham with the chicken.