Herb Roasted Cornish Game Hens

Herb Roasted Cornish Game Hens

These show-stoppers are really simple to make, smell fantastic and the meat is so tender and juicy.   I roast them at 400 degrees Fahrenheit in a shallow roasting pan for about an hour and a half.  I don’t have a rack for my roaster, so I rough chop onions and celery and spread them in the bottom of the roaster.  The vegetables act as a rack.  Just set the hens on top of the chopped vegetables.

Note for another meal:  Afterward, the vegetable infused chicken juices can be used for soup.  Add the chicken carcasses plus any left over herbs and additional water and simmer for a few hours.  Strain out all the bones and vegetables and discard before using this amazing broth.


For the vegetable base:

  • 1 head of celery (the whole bunch), chopped into 2 inch pieces – use the stalks, leaves and heart
  • 2 medium onions rough chopped

Spread chopped vegetables in bottom of roasting pan to act as a rack for the hens

For the hens:

  • 4 small Cornish game hens, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary plus – 4 small sprigs not chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano – plus 4 small sprigs not chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme – plus 4 small sprigs not chopped
  • 2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley – plus 4 small sprigs not chopped
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lemon, quartered

In a food processor, place the chopped herbs, salt, lemon juice and olive oil.  Pulse until pureed.  This puree will be spooned into the space between the chicken breast and the breast skin.  Slip you fingers under the breast skin and gently separate the skin from the breast meat.  This leaves a lovely little pocket to stuff with herb puree.  Spoon the puree into the pocket and smooth out as much as possible.  Rub remaining puree over the outside of each hen.

Fill the body cavity of each hen with 1/4 lemon and the sprigs of fresh herbs.  Truss each bird with kitchen twine.  Trussing the birds helps them to cook evenly.  Place the trussed birds on the bed of chopped vegetables and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Roast birds in 400 degree oven for 1 1/2 hours, basting with drippings frequently.  Remove when chicken is golden brown and instead read thermometer reaches 160 degrees when placed into thickest part of thigh.  Let hens rest for ten minutes to allow juices to set.  Tent the resting birds with tin foil to keep warm.  Remove the lemons and herbs from inside the birds before serving.


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