When the evenings turn cold and it’s time for a fire in the fireplace, my mind starts wandering to comfort foods. This one dish meal of Cornish game hens with root vegetables would make any dinner table warm and cozy. I love to pair this dish with a Pinot Noir from California or Oregon, with flavors of raspberry, cherry and truffle mushrooms.
Step one is preparing the Root Vegetables
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Set aside the Cornish game hens and start by chopping the root vegetables into large chunks, about 2 inches by 2 inches.
In a large bowl, add potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, and onion, and 3 whole garlic cloves. Add 1 Tablespoon olive oil and 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar. Toss to coat vegetables and spread into a 9x13x2 glass baking dish. Cover with a lid or foil. Roast covered vegetables for 40 minutes.
Step two is 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.
Coat the exterior of the Cornish game hens with the olive oil mixture. Tie the drumsticks together with 100% cotton string.
Reduce the oven temperature to 375 F degrees. 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 hour to 1 1/4 hours or until vegetables are tender. Cornish game hen should register 180 degrees on an instant read thermometer, and the juices should run clear.
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 4 servings.
Suggestions for wine pairings:
Your week day 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
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 for mincing
- 2 stems fresh rosemary, whole
- 1 tsp sea salt, divided
- 1 tsp freshly ground pepper, divided
- 2 Cornish Game Hens
- 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 garlics. Mix well to coat with the olive oil balsamic. Salt and pepper lightly with 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper.
- Spread vegetables in one layer into a 9x13x2 baking dish. Roast for 40 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 to the 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, and skin is nicely browned, and juice run clear.
- Let rest 10 minutes, cut each hen in half lengthwise, serve next to roasted vegetables.