This scrumptious one-dish of Cornish Game Hens with Root Vegetables makes any dinner table warm and cozy
When the evenings turn cool and its time for a fire in the fireplace, our minds starts wandering toward comfort foods
We love to pair this dish with a creamy Pinot Noir from California or Oregon with the flavors of raspberry, cherry, black truffles and mushrooms
What is a Cornish Game Hen?
A Cornish Game hen is a cross between the Cornish and White Plymouth rock chicken breeds. On average they weigh between 1.5 – 2 pounds. With less assertive flavors than chicken they pair well with most vegetables and their meat is tender when cooked.
A single hen will make one hearty serving or can be cut in half for two regular servings. We always slice ours in half after cooking and before serving. However, serving them whole is a showstopper and looks fantastic on the table!
How to cook Cornish Game Hen:
Cornish Game Hens can be roasted with or without the root vegetables we’ve included here.
When cooking them separately we suggest stuffing them with slices of lemon and onions, to add extra flavor, and also seasoning the skin with herbs. Place them in a roasting pan, cover, and cook for one hour or to an internal temperature of 180˚F. Remove lemons and onions before slicing and serving.
Most Cornish Game Hens are sold frozen so be sure to thaw them out in your refrigerator 24-48 hours ahead of time to ensure even cooking.
Step One: Preparing the Root Vegetables
- Preheat oven to 400˚F degrees. Rinse, pat dry and set aside the Cornish Game Hens.
- Chop the root vegetables into large chunks, about 2 inches by 2 inches.
- In a large bowl add the potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, onion, and 3 whole garlic cloves.
- Add 1 Tablespoon olive oil and 2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar.
- Toss everything together to coat the vegetables and spread evenly into a 9″ x 13″x 2″ baking dish.
- Cover with a lid or with aluminum foil.
- Roast covered vegetables for 45 minutes.
Step Two: preparing the Cornish Game Hens
- In a medium-sized bowl mix 3 cloves of minced garlic, 2 teaspoons of finely chopped sage leaves and 2 teaspoons of finely chopped rosemary. Add in 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and mix together until well blended.
- Coat the exterior of the Cornish game hens with the olive oil and herb mixture.
- Tie the drumsticks together with 100% cotton string.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 375˚F.
- Uncover root vegetables and place game hens directly on top of the root vegetables. Add a sprig of rosemary to the top of each Cornish game hen.
- Return the baking pan with the added hens to the oven. Roast uncovered for 1 to 1-1/4 hours or until vegetables are tender.
- Cornish game hen should register 180˚F on an instant read thermometer, and the juices should run clear.
- The best place to test temperature is on the inner thigh of the hen.
- Remove string on the drumsticks. Cover the pan with foil and let rest for 10 minutes. This is very important because it allows all the juices to resettle into the meat.
Use a large heavy knife to cut game hens in half lengthwise. Serve alongside the roasted root vegetables.
Makes 2 large servings or 4 moderate servings.
Suggestions for wine pairings:
Your weekday wines:
- J Vineyards California Pinot Noir, Sonoma County
- Landmark Vineyard Overlook Pinot Noir, Sonoma County
Your weekend wines:
- WillaKenzie Estate Pierre Leon Pinot Noir, Oregon
- Williamette Valley Estate Pinot Noir, Oregon
Special Occasion wines:
- Kosta Browe Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
- Beaux Freres, The Vineyards Pinot Noir
Pair these side dishes with the hens:
Cornish Game Hens with Root Vegetables
- 1 cup rainbow carrots, cut into 2" thick rounds
- 1 cups potatoes, cut into 2" pieces
- 1 medium parsnip, peeled, cut into 2" pieces
- 1 medium turnip peeled, cut into 2" pieces (about 2 cups)
- 1 medium red onion, cut into 2" pieces
- 3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 5 cloves garlic, divided 3 whole, 2 minced
- 2 stems fresh rosemary
- 1 tsp sea salt, divided
- 1 tsp freshly ground pepper, divided
- 2 Cornish Game Hens (about 1.5-2 pounds each)
- 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary needles, removed from stem finely chopped
- 1 Tbsp sage leaves finely chopped
- Preheat oven to 400°F
- In a large bowl, mix 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil and 2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar together.
- Add carrots, potatoes, parsnips, turnips, onion, 3 whole cloves garlic. Mix well to coat with the olive oil balsamic mixture. Salt and pepper lightly with 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper.
- Spread vegetables in one layer into a 9 x 13 x 2 baking dish. Roast for 45 minutes.
Prepare Game Hens:
- Combine 2 Tablespoons olive oil, 2 cloves minced garlic, chopped rosemary, chopped sage remaining salt and pepper in a medium bowl.
- Coat the whole exterior of the game hens. Add one sprig of rosemary on top of game hens. Tuck wings under birds. Tie drumstick together with 100% cotton string.
- Reduce oven heat to 375° F
- Add game hens on top of the vegetables.
- Cook uncovered for 1 hour. Continue cooking about 15 more minutes, or until hens are cooked to an internal temperature of 180°F when a thermometer is inserted into the thigh, and skin is well browned, and juices run clear.
- Let rest 10 minutes, cut each hen in half lengthwise, and serve next to roasted vegetables.