BRIAN IN THE KITCHEN  brought to you by Stittsworth Meats

December 21 2010

Herb-Roasted Cornish Hens

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2 Cornish game hens, about 1-1/2 pounds each
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 Tablespoon grated orange zest (or lemon)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using kitchen shears, cut along each side of the backbone of hens; discard backbones. Turn hens, breast side up and open flat. Using the palm of your hand, flatten breasts slightly so the halves lay flat. With your fingers, carefully loosen the skin under the breasts, legs, and thighs.

In a small bowl, stir together all remaining ingredients. Rub the herb mixture on meat under loosened skin; press skin back in place. Tuck the wings under hens. Spray a large ovenproof skillet with nonstick spray and set over medium-high heat. Add hens, breast side down and cook until browned, about 5 minutes, without turning. Place a piece of foil on top of hens, then place a cast-iron skillet on top of foil, pressing down on chicken.

Place pan in oven and roast hens for 25 minutes. Remove cast iron skillet and foil from pan. Carefully turn hens over and roast, uncovered, an additional 10 minutes. Let hens rest for 10 minutes before serving. Cut each hen in half to serve four.