“Company is coming!”
Three little words that strike terror in the heart ~ and you know why…
Because the question is: What will we serve for the main dish?
Serves 4 -8
4 Cornish Game Hens (approx. 22 oz. each)
1/2 cup (1 cube) Butter (or Dairy Free Substitute)
Seasoned Salt or Sea Salt
Black Pepper, freshly ground
Dried Rosemary, cracked or whole (about 2 teaspoons)
Dried French Thyme (about 2 teaspoons)
Dried Turkish Oregano (about 2 teaspoons)
35 – 40 Garlic cloves (See Notes for Success, below)
Optional garnish: Fresh orange slices and sprigs of parsley
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Cut each Cornish Hen in half along the backbone with poultry shears or a sharp knife. Trim off any extra fat; thoroughly rinse and dry each hen with paper towels.
2. Melt butter in a shallow roasting pan large enough to hold all of the hens in a single layer. Roll each hen in butter. Sprinkle both sides to taste with seasoned salt or sea salt and pepper. Crush the rosemary, oregano and thyme between your fingers as you sprinkle it over the hens. Place each hen SKIN SIDE DOWN.
- Make Ahead Tip: Cover the hens with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 24 hours. Let the hens sit at room-temperature for one hour; then proceed with the recipe below.
4. Scatter the garlic cloves on top. Return to the oven and bake until the hens are golden, about 30 minutes.
5. Transfer hens to a serving platter. Taste the herb/butter/drippings mixture in the pan. Season with salt or pepper; if needed. Spoon some of the herb/butter sauce evenly over the hens.
Garlic: I use the peeled cloves that are in the refrigerated produce section in the grocery store. I usually get my garlic cloves at Costco; they are huge cloves which are perfect for this dish! However, if you prefer to use fresh heads of garlic; here’s how to prepare it:
- Separate garlic cloves from 2 heads of garlic, but do not peel them. Drop the cloves into a small saucepan of boiling water. Simmer 2 to 3 minutes. Drain well; slip off the skins.
Herbs & Seasoning: I use about 1 teaspoon each of rosemary, oregano and thyme on each side. I crumble each herb as I sprinkle it on top of the hens, adding more herbs if there’s a bare spot. Use the amount of herbs, salt and pepper that appeal to you. It will taste wonderful! Note: There is Mexican Oregano and Turkish Oregano; we are after a Mediterranean flavor so go for the Turkish Oregano. My favorite place to get herbs and spices is: Penzey’s Spices.
Is there an easy way to tell if the hens are done? I don’t have a meat thermometer: Poke the tines of a fork into the largest hen right up to the bone; if the juices come out clear, the hens are done. If the juices come out pink; pop into the oven for another 5 – 7 minutes then check again. (Now, don’t get paranoid and over-bake your hens)
I cannot find Cornish Game Hens in my area. Is there anything I can substitute for them? Yes. You can substitute fresh chicken, quartered. For this recipe you would need two whole chickens.
Lynn, why do you say this recipe serves 4 – 8 people? Ahhh, good question. I find that light eaters are happy with 1/2 of a hen; while hearty eaters want to enjoy an entire hen. And sometimes even I edge on the “hearty side”… ahem! Please don’t tell anyone I told you that!
Where are the Cornish Hens? I can’t seem to find them in the meat section. If your grocery store carries them; they are usually in the frozen section. The little hens are frozen solid like a brick! Allow at least two or three days for thawing. No, I’m not kidding. I always think they will thaw overnight; but they don’t. I’ve found that they are frozen inside and quite impossible to cut in half. You can fast-thaw the hens in cold water; but it seems to me that they get a little dry with this method. I do not recommend thawing them in a microwave… don’t even get me started on this…
Oh…and one more tip (I can’t help myself!) The perfect gluten-free dessert to serve with Garlic and Herb Roasted Cornish Hens is Ultimate Chocolate Lava Cake. You can prepare the Ultimate Chocolate Lava Cakes the day before your party and keep them in the frig. When it’s time for dessert, simply preheat your oven; then bake for 15 minutes. Ohhhh… can I come to your party?