We all make roast chicken, right? I’ve got a few different recipes for roast chicken with the fam’s favorite being one that I make in a covered dutch oven. It’s a simple dish and always turns out so juicy and leaves plenty of drippings for flavorful gravy. Hmmm….my mouth is watering thinking of it.
When I decided to make Cornish game hens this past Christmas, something I’d never attempted before, I decided to keep it simple and go with what I know. After all, it’s kind of like making mini roast chickens, right? So that is what I did and it came out beautifully. I didn’t make them in a covered pot because I had to make 7 of them, so I just put them on a rimmed baking sheet and it all worked out so well. If you have time, prepare the hens a day before and then keep them covered in the refrigerator overnight. I find that the skin seems to get crispier when I have time to do this. Maybe it’s my imagination? Let me know what you think.
Blend the parsley, rosemary, thyme, garlic, lemon zest, salt, pepper and olive oil in your food processor until it’s the consistency of a paste. Keep in mind that if anyone in your family doesn’t love lemon, you can always omit it or any of the herbs. Make it yours. (Sorry, I didn’t take a lot of pictures of all of the steps. I was a busy girl that day.)
Loosen the skin with your fingers and shove about 1 tablespoon of the herb paste underneath, rubbing it all around on top of the breast. The smells at this point are fantastic! Now rub softened butter all over your hens along with a sprinkling of more salt and pepper.
Cover and refrigerate overnight if possible. If not, preheat your oven to 400 degrees when you’re starting the recipe.
If they’ve been refrigerated, bring your hens up to room temperature for about an hour before roasting. Put them in your 400 degree preheated oven for about 50 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the size of your hens. Use a meat thermometer to make sure that the internal temperature in the thigh is 165 degrees. Once done, cover with tin foil and let rest on the counter for about 15 minutes before serving.
Each person gets one hen. While no carving is required, you can cut each one in half down the back bone. My fam prefers to each have their own whole hen on their plates and it sure looks nice that way. Dig in!
Here’s the printable.
- Serves: 7 to 8 servings
- Serving size: 1 Cornish game hen per person
- 7 or 8 Cornish game hens, rinsed and patted dry
- ½ cut fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
- 2 Tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 Tbsp lemon zest
- 1½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 1 to 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- ½ stick softened butter
- more salt and pepper for sprinkling on top
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees if cooking right away.
- Put the herbs, garlic, lemon zest, olive oil, salt and pepper in a food processor and blend until a paste.
- Rub about 1 Tbsp of the herb paste underneath the skin of each hen.
- Rub the softened butter all over each hen and then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight if possible.
- If refrigerated, bring the hens up to room temperature for about an hour before roasting.
- Take off the plastic wrap and put them in the 400 degree oven for about 50 minutes to 1 hour until the internal temperature of the thigh is at 165 degrees.
- Cover with tin foil and let rest on the counter for about 15 minutes before serving.