Roasted Cornish Hens

In my house, especially this time of year, I really try to make sure I put something good on the table at least one night a week. I consider it practice for the days to come with children and the busy-ness that having little ones entails so I try to find something easy and a dish that everyone loves (read: my boyfriend and our spoiled pup). This is when I discovered the Cornish Hen.

Essentially a Cornish Hen is a small chicken which makes it an easy and familiar dish for the dinner table and perfect to pair with any number of favorite sides. I usually try to find them on sale and grab two or three (or five) at throw them in the freezer for a later winter date. This year I was lucky enough to find them right after Thanksgiving and for a great deal!

For freezer hens, if they come in a duo, be mindful that the styrofoam boat they are in will keep them frozen longer once you stick them in the fridge. I usually try to put them in their own dish while leaving the wrapping on the bird, but they can still take around 2 or 3 days to defrost in a normal refrigerator.

A lot of times, I forget about taking it out of the freezer and need a little additional help and that’s when the cold water method comes in. You can leave it in the sealed packaging, which is the recommended way, and turn it occasionally, but you don’t need to do much in defrosting except let the water do it’s thing.

For a perfect Cornish Hen I suggest only a few spices, butter (or olive oil) and the hen itself. Sage, rosemary, dried garlic, thyme all are perfect and mixing them all together works too. I also use salted butter and don’t add any additional salt since the salted butter has it already.

For your ingredients:

  • 2 Cornish Hens
  • 1 Stick Salted Butter or 1/3 cup of olive oil
  • Spices: Sage, rosemary, dried garlic, thyme, the possibilities are endless
  • Spoon or basting brush on hand

Total Cooking Time: Approximately 1 Hour – 1 Hour 25 Minutes

My suggested cooking temperature is 350° and roasting for 1 hour to 1 hour 25 minutes depending on how fast your oven cooks. You will know when the birds are done when they reach a temperature of 180°  at the meatiest part of breast or thigh and the juices run clear.

To prep the birds, you can rinse them if you’d like, I always do, but make sure to pat dry before seasoning. Put them breast up in a glass pan that you have sprayed with oil or rubbed with melted butter and top with your seasoning. Once seasoned, slice butter into pats and lay strategically on the spices until you have covered as much of the top of the bird as possible with butter and then into the oven they go.

At the 30 minute mark, you will want to take a spoon or basting brush and cover the top of  birds with the melted butter in the bottom of the pan. I would suggest doing this again at the 45 minute mark and possibly 1 hour mark if you think your birds will be in the oven past then. You can also brush with the oil if you use olive oil. This makes te skin as crispy as it possibly can get!

cornish hens 2015

That’s it! Super easy and just takes some tweaking to get it right with seasoning and what you prefer but it really is a super easy meal for two or ten and is always a show stopper!

Cheers & Happy Roasting!

Taylor Guardino, The Food Lover Gone Southern


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