Rosemary Cornish Hen


Holiday meals are a great time to experiment on new recipes and enjoy family.  However, some families, like mine, are smaller than others.  Other families, additionally like mine, can have dietary restrictions: vegetarians, paleo, gluten intolerance or veganism.  Cornish hens are a great treat for meat eaters without having a mound of uneaten leftovers.  The hens come in packages of two with one hen per serving (about four+ ounces).  The rosemary Cornish hens divulged here add an extra holiday flavor.

A Cornish game hen–sometimes called a Cornish hen, poussin, Rock Cornish hen or simply Rock Cornish–is a hybrid chicken sold whole. Despite the name, it is not a game bird but a type of domestic chicken. Though the bird is called a “hen”, it can be either male or female. The Rock Cornish game hen or Rock Cornish hen is a cross between the Cornish Game and Plymouth chicken breeds. This breed develops a large breast over a short period of time compared to game hens. In addition to commanding a higher price, the game hens have a shorter growing span of 28 to 30 days as opposed to 42 or more for regular chicken.  Rock Cornish game hens weigh about 2.5 pounds after four to six weeks, at which time they’re slaughtered.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. I made six Cornish hens; so, it took about two hours to bake fully.
  2. Stuff the butt with a garlic clove, shallot, spring of thyme and rosemary.
  3. Before rubbing butter on the hens, salt and pepper them.
  4. Continually baste the hens with butter every 20 minutes.
  5. Basting is a cooking technique that involves cooking meat with either its own juices or some type of preparation such as a sauce or marinade. The meat is left to cook then periodically coated with the juice.
  6. Elevate the Cornish hens when cooking.  If left to sit in the juices, the hens’ skin will become soggy, and they will take longer to cook.
  7. When the hens are cooked, pierce the breast or meatiest part.  It should run clear.  They should also be at a temperature range of 160-180 for ultimate juiciness.

I enjoy Cornish hens because they present just the right amount of meat without hours of time.  Unlike turkeys and large hams, they cook in roughly one to two hours.  The hens can still be stuffed with Mom’s stuffing recipe or other herbs to bring out various flavors.  Whether cooking for a late Thanksgiving or planning for Christmas, have this recipe on hand to cater to all of our small family meals.

Leave a comment with your favorite holiday meat recipes.  Follow my Pinterest for more recipes.  Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.