roasted cornish game hens


I think that one of the best things you can do in your kitchen is to start a collection of recipes that seem incredibly impressive that are really so utterly uncomplicated.  Sure, I have plenty of recipes, and I’m sure you do as well, for show stopping meals that also happen to take hours to cook and assemble and require a technique nothing short of perfection.  But recently I have been collecting more and more recipes of things that seemed more complicated than they really are, things that you would normally associate with menus of fancy restaurants, things like creme brulee and chocolate mousse (so…admittedly typically desserts).

And here you can start your collection of savory items, of dishes that you might expect to order at a restaurant because you don’t think they are something you’d make at home, but really are probably less complicated to make than some of the things you already make for dinner on a regular basis.  Roasting a whole bird is something that I don’t feel like a lot of people do.  But it’s about one of the most uncomplicated things you can do in the kitchen.  Salt and pepper and oil it, put some garlic and lemon in the cavity, tie it up, put it on top of some onions and lemon, and you’re pretty much good to go.

This is what I made for Gerrit and I on Valentine’s Day, and it is absolutely perfect because it’s a fancy meal that can be prepped in about 15 or 20 minutes, and baked in 30 (much quicker than roasting a whole chicken), which makes our Valentine’s Day nice and non-stressful because I’m not worrying about making some new or complicated thing that might or might not turn out.

So even though we are well past Valentine’s Day, save this for your next special occasion.  Or even make it for just a regular old weekday to make life seem special, because really it is.

Roasted Cornish Game Hens

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time: 30 minutes
Wait Time: 10 minutes

Serves 2

2 cornish game hens
2 lemons, cut into fourths
1 whole head of garlic, cut in half horizontally
1 white onion, peeled and sliced
Olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Pat the outside of the hens dry using paper towels and place in a roasting pan.  Liberally salt and pepper the inside cavity of the hens, and place 1 garlic half and 1 lemon fourth inside each one.
3. Brush the outside of the hens with olive oil (or lather it on with your hands), and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper on all sides.
4. Tie the legs of  each hen together using kitchen twine and tuck the wing tips under the body of each hens.  (The hen should look like it’s lounging with its arms behind its head and its legs crossed).
5. In a medium-sized bowl combine onion and remaining lemon fourths.  Toss with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, a pinch of salt, and a pinch of pepper.  Pour the onion mixture around the hens in the baking dish.
6. Roast the hens for about 30 minutes, until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and the thigh.*
7. Remove from the oven and cover with tinfoil, allowing the hen to rest for about 10 minutes before serving.  Before serving, cut away the kitchen twine.

*A note about done-ness:  the bird should be done when you cut between the leg and the thigh and the juices run clear.  But even if this is the case, you might cut in and be disappointed to find some slightly pink meat.  This tends to be the color of the hen’s dark meat though, pink as opposed to dark.  So while you surely want to make sure it’s done (and may want to take its temperature just to be sure), also don’t be too alarmed by a slightly pink color.

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