The aroma was intoxicating as I placed the large pan of golden game hens on the table. I watched as he took a bite of the crispy skin and moist flesh. He closed his eyes, chewed for a moment and swallowed. Then, quick as a flash, his eyes reopened and said to me, “Jeffery just loves roast chicken.” The room roared with laughter because they all knew exactly what he was talking about.
I recently learned my friend James and I had the same joy for Ina Garten’s recipes and her Barefoot Contessa show. That revelation was the inspiration for serving roast chicken at my Saturday Dinner Party. Of course, it couldn’t be just any plain old chicken. To “turn up the volume”, as Ina would say, I opted for Cornish game hens with lots of flavor. This was a perfect entrée for my dinner party because it was easily prepared the night before, and then thrown in the oven before my guests arrived. Moist and juicy, I knew these were delicious when I looked around the table and all the bones were picked clean.
- 6 fresh Cornish game hen
- 1 Tbl. kosher salt
- 3 tsp. pepper
- 2 Tbl. (about 4 sprigs) rosemary, loosely minced
- 4 lemons, 3 quartered, 1 cut in half
- 2 Tbl. garlic, minced
- 2 - 3 Tbl. olive oil
- 5 large carrots, peeled
- 4 stalks celery
- 3-4 medium onions, peeled
- 1/3 cup chicken broth, low sodium
- 2 Tbl. olive oil
- salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Toss the salt, pepper and rosemary in a small bowl until well combined. Set aside. Rinse the game hens in cold water, paying close attention to the inside cavity of the birds. Evenly distribute the garlic and half of the rosemary seasoning inside each cavity of the bird. Rub the cavity with your hand to spread flavoring throughout the inside of the bird. Next, insert two quartered lemon wedges inside the seasoned cavity. Squeeze the juice of two lemon halves over the top of each bird.
- Coat the outer skin of each hen with olive oil and sprinkle with the remaining rosemary season. Tuck the wings under the body and tie the legs together with kitchen twine. Place each hen in a roasting pan on top of the vegetables. Cover with foil or lid.
- Roast covered at 425 degrees for 30 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375 degrees and remove the cover. Back for an additional 45 minutes - 1 hour, or until the top is golden brown and the juices run clear. Cover with foil and allow the hens to rest for 20 minutes before serving. Makes on hen per guest.
- Place the chunked vegetables in the bottom of the roasting pan. Coat the olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss with your hands to coat. Pour the chicken broth over the vegetables, and place the game hens on top.