Glazed Cornish Game Hens With Apricot Pistachio Dressing


Cornish game hens are festive and readily available. I've even made them the centerpiece of a holiday meal. These little birds cook much more quickly than other holiday roasts, such as lamb or ham. I normally figure on one hen (in the 1 1/2- to 2-pound range) to serve every two guests - especially if you also plan to have a first course and a dessert.

8 servings


  • 4 Cornish game hens (about 1 1/2 pounds each), cut down the backbone with heavy-duty scissors and spread open

  • 2 cups kosher salt

Apricot Pistachio Dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 medium-large onion, cut into medium dice

  • 1 cup dried apricots, cut into medium dice

  • ½ cup apricot jam

  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar

  • ½ cup pistachio nuts, coarsely chopped

  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley


  1. Brining the hens before roasting improves their flavor: Dissolve 2 cups of kosher salt in a clean bucket filled with 5 quarts of water. Add prepared hens and soak for 2 hours. Rinse thoroughly; pat dry.

  2. Adjust oven rack to upper middle position, and heat oven to 450 degrees.

  3. Heat oil in a large skillet. Saute onions until softened, about 7 minutes. Stir in apricots, then spread mixture onto a large (about 18-by-12-inch) lipped cookie sheet. Lay hens over the mixture. Mix jam and vinegar, and brush all but a few tablespoons over hens.

  4. Bake hens, brushing 2 or 3 times with remaining jam mixture and accumulated pan juices, until hens are golden brown and juices run clear, about 45 minutes. Turn heat from bake to broil, then cook until hens are spotty brown, watching carefully so they don't burn, 4 to 5 minutes.

  5. Transfer hens to a large platter with tongs, then cut in half at the breastbone to create individual servings.

  6. Return apricot dressing to the oven and broil to evaporate some of the excess liquid, about 5 minutes longer. Stir in pistachios and parsley. Spoon in a mound next to hens.


Copyright 2004 USA WEEKEND and columnist Pam Anderson. All rights reserved.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

866 Calories
56g Fat
29g Carbs
61g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 8
Calories 866
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 56g 72%
Saturated Fat 14g 71%
Cholesterol 340mg 113%
Sodium 23026mg 1,001%
Total Carbohydrate 29g 11%
Dietary Fiber 3g 9%
Total Sugars 20g
Protein 61g
Vitamin C 11mg 54%
Calcium 72mg 6%
Iron 4mg 22%
Potassium 1145mg 24%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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