Fancy Little Birds (Oven-Roasted Herbed Cornish Game Hens)

Oven-Roasted Herbed Cornish Game Hens
Oven-Roasted Herbed Cornish Game Hens

I’m not a big holiday celebration person, but I do like cooking special food for special occasions.  Christmas, growing up, was always a special meal, but it wasn’t one specific thing. For years, Christmas Eve was Welsh Rarebit (something like this recipe — completely not allergy-friendly beer cheese sauce over toast), and then it was stir fry.

This year, I wanted something special but not large, and when Cornish game hens were on sale at the grocery store, I decided that this would be perfect for Christmas Eve. There were two birds in my package, but it turns out that about half a bird is a single serving. I knew I wanted to spatchcock the birds (although it doesn’t cut the cooking time down much here) so that they might stay juicy, and also so that I didn’t have to worry about stuffing them. I cooked them over thick slices of orange, coated in herbes d’provence, and served them with dressing, mashed potatoes, green beans, and a mushroom gravy. The dressing and gravy can be found as part of an previous post, my Thanksgiving casserole.

This is what the bird looked like "carved" and plated with lovely green beans on my china (of which I own four whole pieces).
This is what the bird looked like “carved” and plated with lovely green beans on my china (of which I own four whole pieces).

This bird did look elegant for dinner, but eating the parts is a little fussy. Maybe don’t make this for when you need your table manners to be most impressive? Unless you’re really good eating a tiny drumstick with a knife and fork? Cornish game hens are a nice change from chicken, but they are also a little fussy to eat.

Baked Herbed Spatchcocked Cornish Game Hens
Print Recipe
That is a LOT of qualifiers! But this recipe is really straightforward and requires only one sort of specialized piece of equipment -- kitchen shears. Otherwise, use your oven just go. I am NOT going to talk you through spatchcocking. Try our turkey post here, or this post, which has tons of photos.
Servings Prep Time
4 people (with sides) 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
45 minutes, approximately 45 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 people (with sides) 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
45 minutes, approximately 45 minutes
Baked Herbed Spatchcocked Cornish Game Hens
Print Recipe
That is a LOT of qualifiers! But this recipe is really straightforward and requires only one sort of specialized piece of equipment -- kitchen shears. Otherwise, use your oven just go. I am NOT going to talk you through spatchcocking. Try our turkey post here, or this post, which has tons of photos.
Servings Prep Time
4 people (with sides) 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
45 minutes, approximately 45 minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 people (with sides) 10 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
45 minutes, approximately 45 minutes
Ingredients
  • 2 whole Cornish game hens
  • 1 whole orange, cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 2 teaspoons herbes d'provence blend
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
Servings: people (with sides)
Instructions
  1. Spatchcock and wash your hens.
  2. Place hens over a thick slice of orange on a rimmed baking tray with a rack.
  3. Pat the skin dry, then rub with olive oil and sprinkle on herb blend.
  4. Bake at 325ºF for 30-45 minutes, or until a meat thermometer reaches 160ºF. You are aiming for a final temperature of 165ºF, but when you rest the birds for a few minutes outside the oven, it will keep climbing. Rest meat, and then carve.
Recipe Notes

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