How to Cook Cornish Hens

Sarah Sandori

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My family loves it when I cook Cornish hens for them. Because of their diminutive size compared to other chickens, the kids think they’re cute. We all find the taste to be a grade above most other kinds of chicken, too.

What most people in the United States know as a Cornish hen is really a cross-breed of poultry created from Cornish chickens and White Rock chickens. Technically, then, it should be called a Rock Cornish hen (or, to draw the name out even further, a Rock Cornish game hen).

The Rock Cornish hens found in your supermarket usually will be of a size to provide about 1 serving of meat per person. Obviously, this makes it a cinch to determine how many to buy. Serving four? Purchase four hens. Cooking for a church picnic of a hundred folks? You’ll need a hundred of these little birds (plus a few to cover the people who will insist on seconds). And so on.

Rock Cornish hens are best when oven-roasted. Roasting time varies, depending on the size and number of birds. A minimum time is 20 minutes, but most will require between 25 and 35 minutes and some will need 40 or 45 minutes. A good sign the hen is done is when you can stick a sharp knife or fork tine into it and the juices from it run clear.

You can roast Rock Cornish hens as they come straight from the butcher or supermarket, but it’s better to rub them with herbs and spices first. Try thyme or rosemary along with a little salt and fresh-ground black pepper. Some cooks like to baste their hens with melted butter—this will help to brown it and will also add extra flavor. As the hen cooks, juices will collect in the oven pan. From time to time, just scoop up these juices and pour them over the bird to keep it from drying it.

Sarah Sandori is the food and entertaining columnist for the Solid Gold Info Writers Consortium . Have you ever wanted to be able to exactly duplicate a favorite dish from a favorite restaurant? Check out Sarah's article where she reveals her source for the most mouth-watering secret restaurant recipes in America:


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