My dinner plan for NYE was to roast Cornish hens. Instead, we decided to take it easy and just have a bunch of appetizers while waiting to kick 2020 in the behind. (As much as 2020 brought tremendous blessings in the midst of the storm, it still goes down in history as a very yucky year!)
I thawed the hens out already and needed to roast them. I am glad that I did! I always forget how easy it is to cook Cornish hens. The best part is looking as if I am such a great chef in my kitchen in coming up with such an elegant dish. In reality, roasting Cornish hens is so simple and can be a one pot dish is you choose to do so. It is also a great comforting winter dish.
I have roasted Cornish hens a couple of times over the years and they were always a hit. This time around I used Jo Cooks cornish hen recipe because hers was the simplest recipe I found. I did not want to make gravy or use wine. Hers just use herbs, lemon and spices that I already have in my pantry. The recipe also calls for rosemary which I have growing in my front yard for years. It is a big bush and I have been wanting to use it in my cooking. I went outside despite the rain and cold and snipped away at the rosemary bush. I went back to my kitchen feeling like a chef using freshly cut herbs in my cooking. LOL!
Before I share the recipe that I adapted from Jo Cooks, let me just say that the hens came out juicy, moist and flavorful. (You ask, what are Cornish hens? If you see what look like miniature chickens in the poultry section or butcher shop, those are probably most likely Cornish hens. They are a particular breed of poultry and only weigh 1-2 lbs. And they taste like chicken. Unlike chicken, since Cornish hens are tiny, you can enjoy all the parts of the hen in one sitting, if you choose to eat the entire bird. You can have the wings, thighs, drumstick, breast, etc. I do not know about you but I cannot finish an entire chicken in one meal. I only managed to eat just half of one of the hens that I cooked.
Here is my version of roasted cornish hens with potatoes. Check out Jo Cooks blog for more comprehensvie information which by the way is a delightful cooking blog. Thank you, Jo Cooks for this recipe.
ROASTED CORNISH HENS AND POTATOES
- 2 whole cornish hens
- 2-3 sprigs of rosemary for roasting (plus more sprigs for garnish, optional)
- 1 red onion, cut in quarters
- 1 whole head of garlic, peeled
- 1 lemon, sliced (plus 1 more for garnish, optional)
- 6 or more baby potatoes, washed *See my notes
- 2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
- Salt and pepper to taste (for the potatoes)
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 2 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Combine the spices for the dry rub in a small bowl.
- Pat the hens dry with paper towels. Rub the spices all over the cornish hens including the cavities.
- Place the lemons, garlic, onions and rosemary sprigs in the roasting pan. Place the hens on top of the vegetables. Stuff some of the lemon, garlic, onions and rosemary inside the cavity of the cornish hens.
- Season the baby potatoes with salt and pepper and place around the hens.
- Drizzle EVOO all over the hens and potatoes.
- Bake for 50 to 60 minutes in the preheated oven. (Instant-read thermometer should read 165°F when inserted into the thickest part of the breast without touching the bone.)
- Remove the hens and potatoes from the oven. Let the cornish hens rest for 20 minutes before slicing. (The potatoes should be tender by this time. Pierce with a fork to try for doneness.)
- Garnish with lemon and rosemary sprigs (optional).
- Serve the hens whole or cut in half with piping hot potatoes and drizzle fat from roasting.
- Add pepper flakes if you want to add heat to the rub.
- Taste the dry rub to determine if it needs more salt or pepper. Adjust the spices.
- Use baby potatoes as they are creamy and there is no need to peel them before cooking. Otherwise, if using big potatoes such as Idaho potatoes, wash, peel and slice into quarters before adding to the roasting pan.