Updated: May 11, 2019
I have wanted to work with these little birds for quite some time. I thought about doing this for Thanksgiving this past year but considered it would be too much to conquer during my first ever hosting the holiday.
But, this seemed perfect! There were only going to be three of us and I had a pan just large enough to roast all three of these tender birds. They also seemed like the perfect show stopper for the first episode of Game of Thrones final season! Something the people of the cold north would dine on in their great hall! (I actually have no idea if these animals would be able to survive this climate, work with me).
(Stark) Roasted Cornish Game Hens
3 18oz Cornish Game Hens
1 Bosc Pear
3 Sprigs of Rosemary
8 Tbsp Butter
Salt and Pepper to Taste
3 Rings of Lemon
Think of these little hens as small turkeys. Unless you have a fantastic butcher, you will most likely need to buy them commercial and frozen. They may be small but they will take a hell of a time to defrost. I, sadly, only bought mine 24 hrs ahead of time and it was not enough time to fully thaw in my fridge. That meant that Sunday morning I needed to put them in a bowl of warm water and hope beyond hope that they would warm up in time.
Don’t be like me, purchase these little birds a few days prior and allow them to slowly defrost. You may even have the chance to brine them. Wouldn’t that have been nice.
Once your hens are thawed, run them under water to rinse out their cavities. They do not come with the giblets so you don’t need to worry about grabbing a handful of innards. Pat them dry and make sure they are at room temperature.
Preheat your oven to 450℉ with a rack in the middle of the oven.
Place 2 Tbsp of room temperature butter into a separate bowl. Using your hands massage the butter into the skin of the bird, both front and back. Don’t forget the inside as well! If you need more butter, wash your hands and separate another pad from the stick and put it into the bowl. DO NOT contaminate the butter with your knife that has raw hen juices on it.
Once your birds are buttered, crack salt and pepper over the front and back. Don’t be shy!
Lastly, we are going to stuff the cavity and they will be ready to begin their browning. Inside of each hen I was able to stuff two slices of fresh plum, two slices of pear, one clove of garlic, and a half a sprig of rosemary.
The idea is that the flavors will permeate through the meat during the cooking process and help flavor the meat while keeping it moist.
My slices of fruit were not thin mind you. I ended up halving the plum than quartering those halves to use two slices. The cavity is pretty small, so do what you can to stuff it!
I also did not have any kitchen twine so I had to make sure that these things would be able to stay inside on their own. If you are able to tie up your bird you may be able to squeeze a little more inside.
In a cast iron skillet melt 3 Tbsp of butter with 2 sprigs of rosemary. Cook the butter until it begins to brown and the rosemary easily pulls away from the stalk. Once the pan is hot, and the oven has finished preheating, arrange the birds into the pan breast side up.
Place the pan into the oven for 25 minutes.
While the hens are roasting melt the rest of the butter in a small saucepan with lemon slices.
After this initial browning of the skin, we are going to lower the temperature to 350℉ to cook the meat slowly for the remainder of the process. Starting out high cooks the outer layers and locks in the juices as well as crisps up the skin.
Pour the melted butter over the top of the hens and place one lemon ring over each bird. Bake for another 25 minutes and baste every 10 minutes with the dripping from the pan.
The inside temperature should read 180℉ at the end of the whole process. Remember, the meat will continue to cook once it leaves the oven so I recommend pulling the birds when it is shy of this number by a few degrees.
Remove the hens from the pan and tent them with aluminum foil to let rest for about 6 minutes.
After they have rested present your guests with your beautiful golden birds! Try them with my Rosemary Root Vegetables
Enjoy them Game of Thrones style and eat them with your hands!