The Underrated Meat Sunny Anderson Chooses Over Ham And Turkey

The next time you are hosting a dinner party and are looking for a main course, Food Network host Chef Sunny Anderson has a recommendation to get away from overly-large and expensive staples. In an interview with Insider, Anderson — celeb chef best known for her work on "Cooking For Real," "The Kitchen," and "How'd That Get On My Plate?" — said she likes to substitute traditional meats like ham and turkey for the smaller, less common Cornish game hen. "They're plentiful, which means they're less expensive, and they take a lot less time to roast in the oven and give you more space [there]," Anderson said. 

Unlike roasts or full-size turkeys, Cornish game hens only take about an hour to an hour and a half to fully cook, which means, you won't just save money but also a lot of work in the kitchen, freeing you up to spend more time with guests.

Specialty chicken

While most people have heard of Cornish game hens, few know how to cook them. Their name suggests they might be a game bird like pheasant or quail, but they are actually a specially bred variety of chicken. The breed is a hybrid of Cornish chickens and white Plymouth Rock chickens, which were crossbred to produce a bird that would develop breast meat quickly. Game hens are perfectly proportioned for single servings and typically weigh between one and two pounds apiece.

Rather than spending an entire morning (and possibly the night before) prepping and cooking a fully grown turkey, which can run between $30 to $40 for a 15-pound bird, you need no longer than a feature-length film to go from pan to fork making a trio or quartet of Cornish game hens, which typically cost between $2.50 and $5 per pound. This can be a better option because rather than being forced to plan for leftovers, you can easily adjust the amount of meat you need by adding or losing a bird. And since this breed is smaller, you don't have to dry them out when cooking, waiting for the heat to reach the center of them.