Lemon + Thyme Roasted Cornish Hens with Baby Potatoes and Carrots
Cornish game hens…the pint sized version of the ever popular chicken, but so much more flavorful and adorable. I love anything that comes miniature. Teacup puppies, newborn baby shoes, bit-sized appetizers, tiny Hosta plants – I can’t get enough of them.
If you’re looking to really impress your friends, family or better half, prepare them their own individual serving-sized “chickens”, also known as Poisson, the next time you host a special sit-down dinner. Expect some serious gasps of amazement.
I especially love this recipe, due to the easy one-pot meal aspect. Anytime I can save some time and effort in the kitchen, I’m all for it! So what are we waiting for? You’re next dinner needs this dish. Cheers!
- 2 1 1/2 lbs Cornish game hens
- 1/2 lbs fingerling potatoes or baby Dutch yellow potatoes, washed
- 1 lbs baby carrots, tops removed, washed and peeled
- 3 thick slices bacon
- 2 lemons
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme, plus 4 full thyme sprigs
- ¼ cup honey
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1 tbsp butter, if needed.
- ½ cup wine or chicken stock, plus extra if needed
- 1 chef knife
- 1 medium-sized sauce pan, or two if available
- 1 heavy bottom skillet
- meat thermometer
- 2 medium bowls
- paper towels
- Heat oven to 475 degrees.
- In a medium-sized sauce pan bring salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook for 10 to 15 minute. Do not fully cook, as they will finish cooking in the oven with the Cornish hen. Strain water from potatoes, then set aside in a bowl.
- In same pan, bring salted water to a boil. Add carrots and cook for 8 minutes. Do not overcook carrots. They will finish in the oven. Strain water and set cooked carrots aside. (If you have two sauce pans, potatoes and carrots can be done at the same time. Make sure to watch cooking times).
- While the carrots are cooking, cook bacon in a large skillet until cooked through, but still soft. Chop bacon into ½ inch pieces. Add to potatoes and toss. Drain excess bacon fat from skillet, leaving 1 tbsp still in the pan.
- Rinse out Cornish hens and dry with paper towels. Sprinkle salt and pepper all over skin and inside cavity. Place 1 lemon wedge and 2 thyme sprigs into each hen cavity. Place hens, breast side down, in the same skillet that cooked the bacon.
- In a small bowl, combine the 3 olive oil, 2 tsp lemon zest, 1 tbsp lemon juice, honey and 2 tbsp chopped thyme. Pour over Cornish hens.
- Add potatoes and carrots to skillet, making sure not to crowd the hens. Place in oven and cook for 15 minutes. Remove pan from oven and carefully flip Cornish hens over in pan, so breast are facing up. Baste with pan juices, then place back in oven. Cook 10 – 15 minutes more: until a thermometer reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F or the juices from the legs and thighs run clear when pierced.
- Remove from oven and transfer hens, potatoes and carrots to a platter, leaving any juices in the pan. Lightly cover hens, potatoes and carrots with foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
- Place skillet back on medium heat. Sprinkle 3 tbsp flour over juices and whisk until combined. If gravy base is too dry, add 1 tbsp butter. Should look like wet sand. Cook for 5 minutes while stirring constantly. Slowly whisk in wine or chicken stock. Cook until gravy starts to thicken. Thin with more chicken stock, if gravy is too thick. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.
- Remove foil from Cornish hens, carve meat and arrange on platter with potatoes and carrots. Serve with the gravy.
- Advance prep options: You can cook the potatoes, carrots and bacon up to 1 day in advance, chill, cover and store in the fridge until ready to cook the Cornish hens. Simply forgo the bacon fat in the pan when cooking the cornish hens.
- Combine the lemon-oil dressing up to 1 day in advance and store in a tightly sealed container until you pour this over the Cornish hens.
- Wine Pairing: I chose to pair this dish with a Honig Sauvignon Blanc. But this dish will do well paired with a Bordeaux-styled red wine (red wines are blended from the Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petite Verdot grapes) or a lighter, fruity Pinot Noir.