Even though their name has “game” in the middle of it, they don’t actually send in Panzer divisions to flush these little birdies out of the forest; they are farm-raised. They are more common in North America than in the UK, though they are now (2004) starting to appear in UK supermarkets and recipes.
The ratio of meat to bone is so piddly that, once you’re past the novelty of having one on your plate, you’ll struggle to get a decent meal off the poor widdle thing. Because it’s so small and all the bones are so close together, without picking it up with your hands (which poses a quandary at a fancy restaurant) it’s hard to get off them what meat there is.
Generally you just cook them whole. They cook very quickly. Good for roasting or grilling/barbequing. You can cook whole or cut in half. Consider cutting them in half if you are barbequing them to allow for more even cooking.
To roast whole, allow for 1 to 1 1/2 hours at 375 F (190 C); allow an additional 15 minutes if they are stuffed.
Chicken breast; Poussin; small Guinea fowl; other poultry or a game bird.
As for chicken.
Cornish Hens are a cross between Cornish Hens and White Rock Hens.
Some sources credit the breeding of Cornish Game Hens to Donald John Tyson of Tyson Foods in the US, a large chicken producer, in 1965.
However, Clementine Paddleford, writing for Gourmet magazine much earlier, in 1951, not only credits it to a Jacques Makowsky, but provides evidence that they were on the market well before 1965:
“The new Rock Cornish game hen is an Eastern production. The broad breasts are plumply rounded, the meat finely grained, the flavor combining the sweetness and gamincss of the grouse with the while meat of the finest milk-fed poussin. Jacques Makowsky of Pomfret Center, Connecticut, is owner of Idlewild Farm and producer of this butter-ball creation. The diet for these ‘fancy feathers’ starts with a game-bird feed to which is added ground acorns and berries to give the sweet flavor. Fish is never included in the mix. The birds, selling in sizes of 1 to 1 ¼ pounds, are notable for small bones and broad breasts and a slight gaminess to the taste. Some twenty restaurants from Boston to New Orleans feature the new breed.” — Paddleford, Clementine (1898 – 1967). Food Flashes Column. Gourmet Magazine. June 1951. [Ed. Jacques’ wife, Alphonsine Makowsky, appears to have been an equal partner in the development and ensuing business.]
Doyle, Jim. Te Makowsky — original breeder of the Rock Cornish game hen. San Franisco, California: San Francisco Chronicle. 1 December 2005.