Cornish Game Hens with Roasted Apples and Shallots


What is it about tiny food that makes it special? Roast chicken is always a good meal, but when you use tiny game hens it takes things to a whole new level. Or maybe it’s just me, but I’m going with it.

Rich and I had a date night last Friday and we planned a special dinner at home – Cornish game hens roasted with apples and shallots, a red rice and kamut medley and caramelized acorn squash.

I decided to butterfly the hens, so they would cook faster. I looked up how to do it and it sounded perfectly easy and straightforward. And it should have been.

I thought I knew which side was the chicken’s back. I was cutting along what I thought was the backbone, thinking the whole time, “This chicken sure has a lot of meat on its back. And it’s white like breast meat.” Oops.

I actually had to stand the little chickens up on their legs and visualize them walking around to figure out which side would be the back. I guess you could say I needed a little perspective. That sounds better than saying I am just clueless.

Perspective or no, our game hens turned out beautifully – tender, juicy meat topped with crispy skin. The apples and shallots lent their flavors to the meat and soaked up the juices at the same time. The picture doesn’t do it justice. We were in a hurry to eat, and didn’t take the time to do it right. Then we ate the subject.

Note: I figured on a hen for each of us, but we aren’t big meat eaters and ended up splitting one and saving the other. Plan accordingly – depending on your meat-eating habits.

Download or print the recipe here.

Cornish Games Hens with Roasted Apples and Shallots
From The Cook’s Life
Serves 2-4, easy to double

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 apples
1 large shallot or small onion
2 Cornish game hens
¼ cup white wine or water

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Drizzle a large baking dish with olive oil.

Core the apples, cut each into 8-12 wedges and scatter around the baking dish. Slice the shallot or onion into thin slices and scatter among the apples.

Remove the giblets from the cavity of the hens and discard or save for another use.

Working with one hen at a time, use kitchen shears or a sharp knife to cut along both sides of the backbone to remove it. Open the hen like a book, and place it skin side up on top of the apples and shallots. Repeat with the other hen.

Pour the white wine or water over the hens. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika.

Roast the hens, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, or until the skin is browned and crispy and the legs move easily at the joints. If you pierce the flesh with a knife, the juices should run clear.

Let hens rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.


4 thoughts on “Cornish Game Hens with Roasted Apples and Shallots

  1. Sarah,
    Now I’m picturing the two of you playing with your food on your date night. Goofy!
    No matter which side was the real back of these chickens, this looks very tasty.

    Looking forward to having my spouse around for a date night!

  2. hahahaha YES! first of all, tiny food is ALWAYS special. always.
    and i’m so, so happy to hear you were cutting the wrong side of the chicken! I got on a roast chicken kick a few years ago, and i was so proud of myself, blah blah blah, so fancy. anyway, tim finally told me – after a YEAR AND A HALF, mind you, that i was cooking the chicken upside down.
    whoops. so you make me feel better about that. 😉

    • Glad to make you feel better! I can do you one better than the upside down chickens – the first turkey I ever made I wondered why I couldn’t find the bag of giblets and the neck. I was poking around in the wrong cavity. And I have cooked my share of chickens and turkeys upside down. I maintain that it keeps the white meat moister. 🙂

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