Game Hens with Soy-Whiskey Glaze Stuffed with Sticky Rice and Chinese Sausage

| April 16, 2010 | 3 Comments

Cornish Game Hen, Poussin, Coquelet, or Baby Chicken - which stage name do you prefer for this pint-size poultry? All except “baby chicken” sound exotic. I learned that they are all one and the same and, despite the name hen, they can be of either sex, and they’re not really a game bird at all. Confused? Poussin and Coquelet do sound exotic but then again, French words are exotic to all except the French. Even Cornish Game Hen sounds exotic compared to baby chicken which, to me, suggests cute little yellow, fuzzy chicks and Easter.

“Baby Chicken with Soy-Whiskey Glaze and Sticky Rice Stuffing” not only pulled me in with the name, but with the burnished sheen of the deep-brown skin on the chicken in the photo I was admiring. The recipe I was drooling over hails from Zen Can Cook, the blog of a professional private chef in NYC. I learned that he had pulled together two separate recipes for his creation. The soy-whiskey glaze comes from a recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks, Simple to Spectacular by Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Mark Bittman, the stuffing from another food blogger, Mochachocolata Rita in Hong Kong.

Game Hens with Soy-Whiskey Glaze Stuffed with Sticky Rice and Chinese Sausage along with Braised Baby Bok Choy and Leeks

Besides the curiosity about “Baby Chicken”, “Sticky Rice” compelled me to read further.  Sticky rice is a common pantry item in our home. Vic’s mom, Pranee, steams it solo as a side for some entrées and, of course, uses it in the famous Thai dessert Mango with Sticky Rice. Whenever we go dim-summing, Vic always asks for the sticky rice with sausage steamed in lotus leaves, and sure enough, this sticky rice stuffing was one and the same.

Game Hens with Soy-Whiskey Glaze Stuffed with Sticky Rice and Chinese Sausage
Adapted from a recipe at Zen Can Cook

For the sticky rice:

Lạp Xưởng and Black (Dark) Soy Sauce

  1. 2 Chinese sausages (Lạp Xưởng)*
  2. 1½ cup fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and thinly sliced
  3. 1 tablespoon (15 ml.) fresh ginger, finely chopped (a microplane zester makes this a breeze.)
  4. 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  5. 2 tablespoons (30 ml.) canola oil
  6. 3 tablespoons (45 ml.) dark soy sauce (may be labeled “Black Soy Sauce”)*
  7. 2 tablespoons (30 ml.) soy sauce
  8. 2 cups (480 ml.) sticky rice
  9. 2 cups (480 ml.) low-sodium chicken stock

* Available at Asian grocers and markets. Click on the photo to enlarge.

  • Soak the sticky rice in hot water for at least 2 hours and then drain.
  • Cover the Chinese sausages with water in a shallow frying pan, bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes. (a trick learned from Pranee, who says it removes excess fat and softens the sausage).
  • Slice the sausages into ¼-inch (.63-cm.) pieces.
  • Heat the canola oil in a large pan and sauté sausage slices and mushrooms.
  • Add the ginger and garlic and stir until fragrant, a minute or two.
  • Add the drained sticky rice and deglaze the pan with the two soy sauces and chicken stock.
  • Cover and cook until the liquid is dissolved.
  • Let cool until ready to stuff the chickens.

For the chickens:

  1. 4 Cornish Game Hens
  2. ½ cup (120 ml.) kosher salt
  3. 1¼ cup (300 ml.)  sugar
  4. ¼ cup (60 ml) fresh ginger, finely chopped (a microplane zester make this a breeze.)
  5. 1 cup (240 ml.) soy sauce
  6. ¼-½ cup (60-120 ml.) rye, scotch or other whiskey
  7. 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Mix the salt and ¼ cup (60 ml.) of the sugar in 1 quart (1 lt.) water until dissolved.
  • Add the chickens to the brine for about 30-60 minutes at room temperature. (If your kitchen is very hot, refrigerate.)
  • Mix together the remaining sugar, ginger, soy sauce, whiskey and garlic in a small sauce pan.
  • Bring to a boil and simmer for 20-30 minutes then remove from heat.

Assembly and baking:

  • Preheat the oven to 375°F (191°C).
  • Season the little bird’s cavity with salt and fresh ground pepper, then fill with the sticky rice mixture.
  • Truss them or at least tie the legs together. (Click the link to see Alton Brown truss a turkey, which is shaped exactly like a baby bird.)
  • Place the little ones on their backs in a roasting pan. Brush liberally with the whiskey-soy glaze.
  • Place in the preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes, basting every 8-10 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted in the thigh reads 155°F (68°C).
  • Remove to a warm platter, tent with aluminum foil and keep warm for 10 minutes.

I served these with braised leeks and baby bok choy. I lightly browned the cleaned and trimmed leeks in a little butter, then braised them in 2 cups (480 ml.) of chicken stock. Add the bok choy in the final 3 minutes (baby bok choy will get bitter if cooked too long).

The 2007 Sangiovese from Cana’s Feast Winery in Carlton, Oregon would complement this meal.

Bon appétit

— Charles

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Category: Poultry

About the Author (Author Profile)

Music, food and photography are at the center of Charles’ life. He performed with the Dallas Symphony, Dallas Opera and was assistant principal bassoonist with the Fort Worth Symphony for more than 20 years. When Charles and Victor moved to Baltimore, Charles created Lone Star Personal Chef and Catering Service and taught cooking classes at Williams-Sonoma. Now in Salem, Charles is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Mountain West Real Estate, taught cooking classes for children at the A.C. Gilbert Discovery Village, and owns and operates Charles Price Photography. Charles and Vic enjoy entertaining and frequently host dinners as fundraisers for local non-profits and charities

Comments (3)

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  1. So glad you like the stuffing recipe, your bird (ohhh, I just can’t say baby chicken) looks FANTASTIC! Especially since its legs were nicely put together (mine was no lady ^_^). Cheers!

  2. zenchef says:

    Wow…Charles. It looks so beautiful! It’s such a great dish, isn’t it?
    Thanks so much for trying it. Makes me happy. 🙂

  3. Ginny Renaud says:

    Charles; Your writings read like a book. I so enjoy everyone of them but this one especially….but it was a little to soon after Easter and the vision of fuzzy baby Easter chicks are too close at mind…..much prefer the french version. You are always a hoot. Ginners

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