This week’s issue is an ode to my mom. For as long as I can remember, every Friday night she would make a special dinner for Shabbat. I think these recipes are perfect to make when you have company, or on a Sunday night when you want a comforting meal.

I’m sure Cornish Hens don’t strike you as an easy meal to make, but they really are! The most labor you will put into the dish is cleaning the bird. If you are squeamish at all, ask the butcher? at your local supermarket to do the dirty work for you. They’re small birds, 1-1.5 pounds each, so my mom usually makes one for every two people.

Cornish Hens are a great alternative because they are very easy to come by and also inexpensive! You can usually find them in the meat department at your local supermarket in packages of two. If you’re just making one, clean both and freeze the other for next time!

There will be no Hillman’s Helpings next week, as I will be in Mexico on my “spring break,” so expect the next issue on April 5th.


Serves 2

Cleaning the Hen
When you take your hen home, put on a pot of water. Place the hen in a large bowl in the sink. Once the water boils, pour it over the hen. The skin will tense up and any remaining feather pins will come to the surface. Take a pair of kitchen tweezers (or those tweezers that you don’t use anymore) and pick out the remaining pins. Run water through the bird a few times to clean it out. (There might be a plastic bag with the gizzards in the cavity – throw this away)

If you see excess fat around the neck of the hen – pull this off if you want. If not, it will just add flavor to the bird. You’re done! See, that wasn’t too bad.

Cooking the Hen
Preheat the oven at 375 degrees.

Place the bird in a roasting pan (remember, line the pan with foil for easy clean-up). Cut a lemon in half and squeeze one half over the hen. Place the other half in the cavity of the hen.

Pour 1/2 cup orange juice, 1/2 chicken stock and 1/4 cup white wine in the roasting pan. Put 2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme in the pan and sprinkle a teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves on the bird. Season the bird liberally with kosher salt and pepper.

Roast the bird in the oven for an hour. Halfway through the cooking process, turn the bird over onto its other side and baste the bird (with a baster, or with a spoon).

Basting means to moisten (meat, for example) periodically with a liquid, such as melted butter or a sauce, especially while cooking.

When the hour has passed, turn the bird back over, baste again and roast for 4-5 more minutes. Remove the bird from the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes. Cut the leg/thigh/breast off with a knife (the bones are easy to cut). If you mess up, who cares! It’s the taste that matters.

The skin has a lot of flavor and has kept the meat moist while cooking – so you don’t even have to eat it!

Serves 2

Wash and scrub 8-10 red-skinned potatoes. Cut them into quarters and place them in a roasting pan.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cut two tbs. butter into small squares and scatter over potatoes. Liberally sprinkle seasoned salt (I use McCormick’s brand – it has a blue top) all over the potatoes.

Roast the potatoes in the oven for 25-30 minutes turning them once halfway through the cooking, or until they’re sufficiently “browned.” The smaller pieces will get really crispy – these are the best ones!

I hope you’ve enjoyed Hillman’s Helpings!

Bon Appetit!

Lauren Hillman
Hillman’s Helpings