The other night, we had some friends over for dinner and wanted to make a meal that was both visually appealing and full of rich flavors. When I went to the market and saw Cornish Game Hens, I thought they would be perfect for the meal: playful, good for a crowd, and super tasty.
For the hens, I coated them in salt and pepper, inside and out, and I stuffed the cavities with an orange slice, 2-3 garlic cloves and some fresh thyme. I roasted them for 50 minutes at 400 degrees and then let them rest for 10 minutes. I then cut each in half after emptying the cavities and put them under the broiler for another 7 minutes to brown the skin for a little color and crispiness. I then used the pan drippings to make a shallot and mustard gravy and seared some lemon quarters for a carmelized garnish and some citrus kick.
As luck would have it, the next day, I received my Cook's Illustrated the next day which featured a recipe for cornish hens. The executions is quicker and simpler than my method, so next time, I'll be sure to try it out.
If you're unfamiliar with Cook's Illustrated, it's a bi-monthly food magazine that has some of the best and most interesting recipes and tests around. It's a subscription based periodical, but it's absolutely worth the cost for anyone who wants to get some great ideas and tips for recipes.
For the potatoes, I tossed them in some melted duck fat and roasted them with garlic and rosemary until crispy. For the brussel sprouts, I tossed them with thyme, salt, pepper, and olive oil and roasted them cut side down until they were browned on top.
Roasted Cornish Game Hens with Duck Fat Potatoes and Herb Brussel Sprouts
2 Cornish Game Hens
1 bundle of thyme
1 head of garlic
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp flour
1 cup chicken broth
1-1.5 lbs small red potatoes
4 sprigs rosemary
.5 cup melted duck fat or canola oil (you can get duck fat at your local butcher or specialty market)
1-1.5 lbs brussel sprouts
- Pre-heat oven to 400
- Dry hens with paper towel and rub inside and out with salt and pepper and olive oil
- Fill cavities with orange quarters, 2 thyme sprigs, 2-3 garlic cloves
- Roast for 50 minutes
- Let rest for 10 minutes
- Cut hens in half and broil for 7-10 minutes until skin is browned
- Pour pan drippings in a saucepan on medium and add sliced shallots, sauteeing until translucent
- Add flour and stir until starting to brown
- Add broth and mustard and cook on medium low until thickened, 5-8 minutes
- In a small sautee pan, cook the lemon quarters on medium in a little olive oil until carmelized, 3-5 minutes per side
- Served hens with gravy and a lemon quarter
- Melt 1/2 cup of duck fat on low in a saucepan
- Halve potatoes and toss in duck fat with 4-6 garlic cloves, rosemary, salt and pepper
- Spread on a baking sheet cut side down and bake for 35 minutes in 400 degree oven until browned and crisp
- Toss halved brussel sprouts with olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme sprigs
- Spread face down on baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes until crisp
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