Cooking poultry has always somewhat intimidated, and honestly slightly disgusted me… there is something about touching meat with skin still on it that just doesn’t sit well with my stomach so I have always avoided it. Most meaty main courses, especially the Thanksgiving turkey, have always been handed over to my hubby while I chef up all the side dishes and desserts… luckily he is an amazing cook so this balance never was an issue.
After returning from Napa where we ate fancy meals 3 times a day until we were begging each other to stop, I was at the grocery store and feeling very inspired by the incredible foodie experience there and wanted to make us a special dinner. I saw a pack of Cornish Game Hens and decided that was it – I was going to overcome my odd fear of cooking birds and go for it!
I looked up a whole bunch of recipes, I was ready to stuff them with herbs and all this delicious stuff, but then when I got to it they were too small to stuff… like, what the heck were these people even talking about? My hand isn’t that small and I want to know whose is! Instead of throwing in the towel I decided to stick to the basics and see how things turn out. And guess what? It turned out AMAZINGLY!
Here is what you need:
-Pair of Cornish Game Hens > Make sure they are all the way defrosted! That is your #1 key to success
-1/2 stick of melted butter
-Johnny’s Seasoning Salt
-Rosemary (I used dried but would have preferred fresh)
-Meat Thermometer > Your #2 key to success so you don’t over/under cook
-Oven-Safe Frying Pan (large enough to fit both birds)
Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees. While it is warming up, season your birds with the ground pepper, Johnny’s, Rosemary and Oregano. Make sure to rub the spices evenly over the whole bird. Get the belly and armpits and everything!
Then, butter your birds. You can use your hands or a pastry brush, and make sure to again get every surface! Set aside remaining butter for basting. The trick to keeping this juicy is basting! I basted with butter every 5-8 minutes, and once the juices start running out of the bird, baste with those too.
Place the birds in your oven-safe pan, and bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Baste a lot 🙂
After the 15 minutes is up, reduce your heat to 350 degrees, and cook them for another half an hour (baste baste baste blah blah). Test a thick part of the bird’s thighs to make sure they have reached a temp of at least 170 degrees (another indication they are done is that your juices run clear).
If your skins aren’t browned to your liking, switch your broiler on for 3-5 minutes before taking the birds out while watching carefully. I did this and loved how crispy it made the skins!! Be careful not to do this too long since they can burn quickly. Also, don’t forget your oven mitts pulling that hot pan out! I do that all the time and OUCH!
After pulling from the oven, let them rest a minimum of 7 minutes before carving to hold the juices in (this is the #3 key to success… carve early and you will let all the moisture run out!).
I served mine with a butternut squash puree and some oven roasted vegetables.
I hope you try this at least once and find it easy and unintimidating! This is a sure way to impress friends or make a lovely holiday meal for your family with extremely minimal prep, cleanup, or headaches 🙂