Cornish hens are a fantastic alternative to traditional chicken when you’re looking for a dish that’s not only delicious but also offers a juicier and more tender result. Their smaller size allows for quicker cooking & easier moisture retention. Here’s a recipe that highlights the natural juiciness of Cornish hens while infusing them with flavorful herbs and aromatics:
Herb-Roasted Juicy Cornish Hens Recipe
Ingredients You’ll Need:
- 2 Cornish hens (about 1.5 to 2 pounds each)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 lemon, quartered
- 1 onion, quartered
- 2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme
- Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Remove the Cornish hens from their packaging and pat them dry with paper towels.
- Mix the olive oil, minced garlic, chopped rosemary, thyme leaves, salt, & black pepper in a small bowl to create a herb-infused marinade.
- Gently loosen the skin of the hens by running your fingers between the skin & the meat, being careful not to tear it.
- Rub the herb mixture under the skin of the hens, massaging it onto the meat.
- Season the inside of the hens with a bit of salt and pepper.
- Stuff each cavity with lemon quarters, onion quarters, and sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme.
- Tie the legs with kitchen string to keep the birds’ form during roasting.
- Place the hens in a roasting pan or on a baking sheet, breast side up.
- Roast the hens in the preheated oven for approx 45-55 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C) in the thickest part of the thigh.
- About halfway through the cooking time, baste the hens with the juices that accumulate in the pan. This helps keep them moist & adds flavor.
- Once cooked, remove the hens from the oven and let them rest for about 10 minutes before carving.
- Serve the herb-roasted Cornish hens with your favorite side dishes, and enjoy!
Tips for Juicy Cornish Hens
- Brining: Consider bringing the Cornish hens in a mixture of water, salt, sugar, and aromatics for a few hours before cooking. This helps lock in moisture and enhance flavor.
- Even Cooking: To ensure even cooking, tie the legs together as mentioned and tuck the wings behind the back.
- Temperature Accuracy: Use a meat thermometer to measure the internal temperature accurately. This prevents overcooking and dryness.
- Resting: Allowing the hens to rest before carving lets the juices redistribute, resulting in a slice of juicier and more tender meat.
By following these steps and embracing the natural flavors of the Cornish hens, you’ll create a dish that’s not only visually appealing but also exceptionally juicy and full of delicious herb-infused taste.