Roasted Lemon Rosemary Cornish Hens

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We’ve got a Thanksgiving tradition at the Quest House where we make a mini turkey (AKA Cornish game hen) with all the trimmings for dinner. We stuff and roast it along with everything else that you’d expect at Thanksgiving dinner. They are the perfect size for the two of us and don’t have the follow up of weeks of turkey sandwiches, turkey soup, and endless uses of leftover turkey.

A couple meals and you’re done with the process without dreading the sight of the bird ever again. For some reason, they always sell the Cornish hens in packs of 2. I’ve had one sitting in our freezer since last Thanksgiving so I decided to break it out and defrost it for Sunday Dinner this week.

I decided to make do with what I had in the fridge already so I made it a lemon rosemary flavored hen since I had a lemon that I needed to get rid of. I also have a huge rosemary bush in the backyard so I sent The Kid out to snip off a sprig. It was pretty cool to use my own little herb garden for Sunday Dinner. Rosemary is still growing like a weed and is huge now!

The recipe below is per hen so adjust the ingredients if you are making more than one. If you don’t happen to have a Cornish hen or two hanging around (sheesh, doesn’t everyone?!), just use a real chicken instead and double the ingredients.

I love the potatoes done this way. As the bird cooks, the fat from the skin combined with the olive oil almost faux fries the potatoes. The edges get nice and crispy with a great flavor. You can salt and pepper them to taste if you’d like.

Lemon Rosemary Cornish HensLemon Rosemary Cornish Hen

  • 1 Cornish Hen
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 spring fresh rosemary
  • 8 oz white potato
  • 1 tsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking pan or dish with foil. Remove the giblets from the hen and rinse and pat dry. Squeeze the juice from the lemon half into the cavity of the bird and then place the half inside. Remove the hard stem from the rosemary and mince the leaves.

Sprinkle the hen inside and out with the rosemary and place in the pan leg side up. Wash and cut the potato into bite sized chunks. Toss the potatoes in the olive oil to coat and spread them in the dish around the bird. Bake at 375 degrees for an hour. Test with a thermometer to make sure the bird is cooked thoroughly.

Remove from oven and cool slightly. Makes 1 Cornish hen with a side of potatoes that serves 1 – 2 people. The calories, protein and fats for the Cornish hen are very similar to a chicken.

The nutritional information for this recipe will vary greatly depending on how you serve it – skin on or skin off, white meat or dark meat. I used a pair of kitchen scissors to snip the hen in half down the center and gave The Kid the entire half, skin on. Yes, the bones are that easy to cut through. Doesn’t take any arm strength at all.

I took my half and removed the skin and had a nice sized serving of white meat that was contest friendly. You should see the teeny tiny little drumstick. It’s so cute! I divided the potatoes in half between us and served dinner with a side of steamed green beans.

Do you ever make Cornish hens? My grandmother would make them every now and then while I was growing up. I’ve always liked their mini size. They taste just like chicken, but then again… doesn’t everything. 😉

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