Sunday, April 10, 2011

Roast Cornish Game Hens

Cornish Game Hens are a delightfully plump little poultry that get their name from Cornwall, an area on the tip of England’s southernmost peninsula. But thankfully, these days these delicious little dainties are available all over the world, usually found in frozen form in your grocer’s freezer.

For such little birds, they have a surprising amount of meat on ‘em, and what a tasty meat it is. I find Cornish hens a bit richer than chicken, and listed below is a simple recipe that really brings out but doesn’t cover up their flavor.

Roast Cornish Game Hens

2 Cornish game hens
Salt and pepper to taste
2 lemons, sliced in eight pieces
8 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 tablespoons olive oil
24 cloves garlic
1/3 cup white wine
1/3 cup chicken broth

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Rub hens with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Lightly season hens with salt and pepper. Place 4 lemon wedge and a couple sprigs of rosemary in cavity of each hen.

Tie legs closed with cooking twine to help keep lemons in cavity. Arrange in a large, heavy roasting pan, and arrange garlic cloves around hens.

Roast in preheated oven for 25 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F. In a mixing bowl, whisk together wine, chicken broth, and remaining 2 tablespoons of oil; pour over hens. Continue roasting about 25 minutes longer, or until hens are golden brown and juices run clear.   Baste with pan juices every 10 minutes. 

Transfer hens to a platter, pouring any cavity juices into the roasting pan. Tent hens with aluminum foil to keep warm. Transfer pan juices and garlic cloves to a medium saucepan and boil until liquids reduce to a sauce consistency, about 6 minutes. Spoon sauce and garlic around hens. Garnish with rosemary sprigs if you like, and serve.




  1. 25 mins at 450 and 25 mins at 350 is not enough time. Birds were undercooked. needed another 30 mins at 400. Great flavors though! I added a little fajita seasoning on a lark and it made great flavor in the skin.

  2. Hi Charlie. Sorry the time and temps didn't work for you. Ovens can vary in their efficiency and of course sometimes the hens are bigger or smaller--best bet check them regularly with a meat thermometer to make sure they are done. I will add a mention of that into this recipe. Glad the flavor was good. Fajita seasoning sounds like a good addition!