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.

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Recipe Summary

Servings:
8
Yield:
8 servings
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Ingredients

8
Original recipe yields 8 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
Ingredient Checklist
Apricot Pistachio Dressing:

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • 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.

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

  • 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.

Tips

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

Nutrition Facts

866 calories; protein 60.5g; carbohydrates 29.1g; fat 56g; cholesterol 339.9mg; sodium 23025.5mg. Full Nutrition
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Reviews (26)

Read More Reviews

Most helpful positive review

Rating: 5 stars
01/01/2006
With the exception of putting it on the upper level of the oven. I found that @ 450 degrees this browned it way to fast. I would cook it at 350 and then a little higher at the end to darken the color of the skin. Other than that it was a hit at my home. I will make it again. Read More
(33)
35 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 25
  • 4 star values: 10
  • 3 star values: 0
  • 2 star values: 0
  • 1 star values: 0
Rating: 5 stars
12/31/2005
With the exception of putting it on the upper level of the oven. I found that @ 450 degrees this browned it way to fast. I would cook it at 350 and then a little higher at the end to darken the color of the skin. Other than that it was a hit at my home. I will make it again. Read More
(33)
Rating: 5 stars
11/23/2007
This recipe is great. I made a one as a test before Thanksgiving and then made some modifications and made a full batch for Thanksgiving. Salt water bath made all of the difference. Had to turn down heat and cook longer like most others. Also take the vinegar and jam mixture and multiply it by 4 if you want enough to bast with otherwise you pan will run dry and burn up. I did not use the nuts like most others as well. The hens came out with a great flavor tender the meat was almost falling off the bone before I could transfer them to the serving tray. Read More
(18)
Rating: 4 stars
12/11/2009
The Cornish Game Hens had a nice sweet crispy apricot glazed skin and the breast meat was tender and juicy with a nice hint of citrus zest. I would recommend lowering the temperature and covering with foil to begin and finishing up with roasting it on the 450 temperature. I added the pistachio nuts to cook with the dressing instead of adding it at the end and it softened up the nuts nicely for those who do not like the crunch. Read More
(13)
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Rating: 5 stars
12/23/2007
This turned out extremely well although the "Stuffing" was a bit on the oniony side. I used 4x the amount of apricot jam and only 2x the amount of vinegar and it turned out great. The birds were slightly sweet and outstanding. Cooking temp should be 350 for 45 minutes and 390 for 5-10. Read More
(10)
Rating: 5 stars
12/18/2007
These hens are a wonderful holiday or company entree making a lovely presentation. I'm glad I read the other reviews; even at 350-degrees the hens started to get dark brown before they were cooked through so tenting with foil may be needed. Keep a watch on them. Also there is not an abundance of fruit or pan juices so if you like lots you might want to increase the amount of fruit and deglaze the pan with chicken broth or white wine at the end. Definitely worth making! Read More
(9)
Rating: 5 stars
12/25/2006
I wish I would have read the comments regarding the recipe. It did brown too quickly. I ended up tenting with aluminum foil to avoid over browning. I didn't use the pistachio garnish on the side. Not much juice left and decided it wasn't necessary. The Hens were delicious and tender tasty all the way through. I will use this recipe again cook at a lower temp. and leave out the parsley and pistachio s. Read More
(7)
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Rating: 5 stars
01/01/2008
The Cornish hens made a wonderful Christmas Day dinner. We adjusted the time and temperature according to a previous reviewer. And as suggested by others we ultimately covered the hens with foil to keep them from browning too quickly. With regard to the dressing it burned a little but we were able to salvage enough in the end. Read More
(7)
Rating: 4 stars
01/21/2007
I was impressed with how the Cornish hen came out (tasty moist very yummy) However although we love all of the ingredients in the apricot pistachio dressing it was just 'okay'. Noting other reviews I turned down the oven temp to 375 and had no problems. Would make the Cornish hen recipe again without the dressing. Read More
(4)
Rating: 5 stars
11/29/2010
This was delicious! I made it in place of a traditional turkey for Thanksgiving and we really enjoyed it. I didn't use the pistachios and parsley and like others I lowered the cooking temperature to about 375 then turned it up to 400 for the last 5 minutes. Read More
(4)
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