This recipe is proof that food doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated to be delicious. One of my favorite ways to do Cornish Hens is to rub them down with minced garlic, cumin, cinnamon, red pepper and fresh lime juice; the hens end up with a deep, intense flavor this way. They’re even better on the grill when they’re prepared like this; the grill amps up the flavor even more. But the easiest way to cook Cornish Hens, of course, is just to roast them in the oven with a bit of good oil and some salt and pepper. If you’re not afraid of using real butter, it will add a bit of richness to your hens and also aid in the browning process.
I like to halve my hens before roasting; they cook more evenly this way and brown up a bit nicer. To cut a hen in half, simply cut along the backbone on both sides with a very sharp knife and remove it. You can then press down on the hen to flatten it and cook it just so – you may also hear this preparation called butterflied or spatchcocked, depending on where you live, but it all basically means the same thing. The hens will cook more evenly this way.To , do the above step but then also cut the hen down the center of the breast bone. This is usually the best way to serve them, as they make the nicest presentation and it’s also the easiest way to eat them.
For a nicer presentation, I do the above step but then also cut the hen down the center of the breast bone, cutting the hen completely into 2 parts.
- 2 Cornish Hens, fully thawed if frozen. Be sure to check for any giblets stuffed into the cavities and remove them – these, along with the removed backbone, are great for stocks, gravies and other things, if you’re so inclined…I hate for anything to go to waste.
- 2 tablespoons good oil, such as olive or grapeseed; even canola will be fine. Or go crazy and use real butter – even a tablespoon of butter will help with browning and add a richer flavor.
- 1 teaspoon each salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350°
- Prepare the hens as directed above, cutting them in half. Rub down with oil (or butter), salt and pepper.
- Place in shallow roasting pan and roast for approximately 40 minutes
- A few times during roasting time, spoon or baste hens with rendered fat from the bottom of the pan
- If hens need a bit of help with browning, place pan with hens under broiler for an additional 5 minutes
That’s it…that’s all there is to it! I served mine on a bed of baby spinach for a light dinner. Sometimes it’s good to remember to not over-think your food – simpler really can be better.