Product Review: Patti Jean Rock Cornish Game Hens
Roasted Patti Jean Rock Cornish Game Hens make an impressive display for dinner parties. They're also nice if you want to serve a dinner to your family that's a little bit different. There are several brands of Cornish Game Hens available but the Patti Jean name has been in the public eye for quite some time.
Rock Cornish Game Hens are a hybrid chicken breed. They're a cross between Plymouth Rock and Cornish Chickens. In 1955, "The Saturday Evening Post" ran an article that credited Alphonsine "Therese" Makowsky for the development of the Rock Cornish Game Hens. Therese and her husband, Jacques raised guineas for commercial purposes. After a huge fire consumed most of their guinea flock, the Makowskys were left with a lot of orders to fill.
The Makowskys decided not to give up. They promised their customers that they would deliver their orders. The Makowskys started breeding Cornish game cocks with various breeds of chickens to produce smaller birds, which were butchered at 4-5 weeks. The birds were mostly white meat, which was in heavy demand. This new breed of chicken became so popular that the Makowskys found themselves receiving orders for 3,000 birds a day. They stopped raising guineas and continued to raise the Rock Cornish Game Hens instead.
Tyson Foods, (a fledgling company back then), took notice of the popularity of the Cornish Game Hen and jumped on the bandwagon. Today, Tyson is the largest purveyor of Rock Cornish Game Hens in the United States. Tyson uses over 7,600 family farms spread out over 16 states to raise Cornish Game Hens, as well as other birds used for food. Tyson has very strict standards for the farms, as well as all production facilities. The company's goal is to continue to raise their birds without the use of growth hormones and to keep their flocks disease-free.
Tyson markets Cornish Game Hens under their own company name, but they also own the "Patti Jean" trademark. You can find Patti Jean Rock Cornish Game Hens in the frozen meat section of many supermarkets.
Patti Jean is the brand I've used most often over the years and I've always been pleased with the results. Recently I purchased some Patti Jean hens for a special dinner and the hens were a little worse for wear.
The Patti Jean hens I purchases were still very flavorful, they just weren't aesthetically pleasing to the eye. One had a broken leg and the others had damage to the skin on their breasts. I had to bard the hens, but there was nothing that could be done about the hen with the broken leg--(this hen couldn't be properly trussed for baking). I'm confident that the damage occurred in a processing facility and I will be informing Tyson about the damaged birds so they can take steps to correct these problems. Stay tuned for updates.
Josiejean on December 29, 2015:
I was serving the hens for Christmas Eve....I had five hens that wee fairly ok for serving, but one hen was totally hacked open and I had to throw away one entire side....I actually took a picture of the damage and will submit it if I can find a mailing address. It was very disappointing.
Carolyn Woodward on May 30, 2014:
totally wrecked my presentation. are these birds processed by sadists?
Michele Frazier (author) from Texas on July 24, 2013:
I agree. There's no excuse for poor quality. I wonder if they think they can get away with it just because there isn't much competition? People will buy them because they are almost "the only game in town?" Nope. There are other game hen producers, even though there aren't that many.
bad hens on July 21, 2013:
after purchasing 10 hens.. they each had broken bones(every single one had broken wings and/or legs) and most had visible hemotomas within the flesh near the broken bones... they had shards of bone and were essentially unservable to my children. we will never purchase cornish hen from this company - they have very affordable prices, but this is not acceptable quality for a hen that is fairly prized