This one-dish meal of Cornish game hens with root vegetables makes any dinner table warm and cozy. When the evenings turn cool and it’s time for a fire in the fireplace, my mind starts wandering to comfort foods. I love to pair this dish with a Pinot Noir from California or Oregon with flavors of raspberry, cherry and truffle mushrooms.
What is the difference between chicken and Cornish Game Hens?
A Cornish Game hen is a cross between the Cornish and White Plymouth rock chicken breeds. On average they weigh around 2 pounds. With flavors less assertive than chicken, their meat is tender when cooked. A single hen will make one hearty serving or can be cut in half for two regular servings.
How to cook Cornish Game Hen:
Cornish Game hens can be roasted separately without the root vegetables. When cooking them separately I like to stuff them with slices of lemon and onions. Place them in a roasting pan, cover and cook for one hour or to an internal temperature of 165F degrees. Remove lemons and onions before serving.
Most Cornish Game Hens are sold frozen so be sure to thaw them out in your refrigerator 24-hours ahead of time.
Step one is preparing the Root Vegetables
- Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Set aside the Cornish game hens.
- Start chopping the root vegetables into large chunks, about 2 inches by 2 inches.
- In a large bowl, add potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, 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 aluminum foil.
- Roast covered vegetables for 45 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 to 1 1/4 hours or until vegetables are tender. – Cornish game hen should register 180F 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 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
Try these side dishes from our site 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 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 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 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.