Cornish Game Hens with Herb Sauce; spring or not

A lot of people start cooking when they go away to college / university…. Primarily because they have to feed themselves.

Some never make it past opening tins or heating frozen pizzas.

Some make it all the way to pasta – spaghetti with a tomato sauce of some kind or, for special occasions, lasagne.

I started with Cornish Game Hens….. I mean, why not?

It was a bit by accident.

My roommate and I struck a deal with a couple of guys we knew: We’d clean their 2 room apartment every week in exchange for dinner and beer. We lived in the dorm so just getting into a place with a kitchen was a treat.

The mother of one of the guys worked at a supermarket and she supplied him with ‘seconds’ – anything that couldn’t be sold for whatever reason.

One of those things were Cornish hens that were not perfect.

In retrospect, I would love to go back in time and find out just what, exactly, was going on. All I know is that, almost every week, we 4 ravenous students would have a lovely dinner of Cornish hens, fixed in a variety of ways, that were missing a wing or a leg.

When I grew up, had my own apartment and my own kitchen, the little hens were my dinner party staple for years.

Depending on size serve one per person or, if larger, make one for two people and cut in half after roasting.

If there are leftovers…. Even better!

Roast Cornish Game Hens with Herb Sauce

Total time: 1 hour 10 minutes


  • 2 Cornish Game Hens, coquellettes, or 1 small whole chicken, ready for roasting
  • 2 tbs soft butter
  • 1 1/2 tbs dried tarragon
  • 1 1/2 tbs dried summer savory
  • 1 1/2 tbs dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • Sauce:
  • 1 tbs butter
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp dried tarragon
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried savory
  • 1 tbs flour
  • 1/2 cup (4oz, 120ml) dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup (2oz, 60ml) chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup (3oz, 90gr) Greek yogurt, crème fraiche, or sour cream


  • Mix 1 tbs butter with 1 tbs each of tarragon, thyme and savory.
  • Divide herb mixture and put half into each of the hens.
  • Tie legs close and bend wings around and under the back – so it looks like they are lying there with their arms akimbo.  It keeps them from flapping and gives the hen something to rest on.
  • Lay them on a rack in a shallow baking pan.
  • Rub the remaining 1 tbs butter over the hens and sprinkle the remaining 1/2 tbs of each herb and the salt over the top.
  • Put into 400F (200C) oven and bake for 30 minutes.
  • Pour 1 tbs oil over each hen and bake 20 – 30 minutes longer or until done.  I recommend using a thermometer…
  • Sauce:
  • In medium saucepan sauté shallot and herbs in butter until shallot is tender.
  • Add flour and stir constantly for 1 minute with a whisk.
  • Slowly add wine stirring constantly to thicken.
  • Add stock and heat, stirring, to boiling.
  • Add yogurt and stir to combine. Keep warm until needed.

Print Recipe

Every time we have a nice day I run outside and pretend it’s spring.

I say pretend because the nice day is then followed by three days of high winds, rain and cold.

On the last nice day I grabbed a photo of the quince before the winds came and blew all the flowers off.

We’re expecting another nice day on Wednesday.

Last update on March 5, 2017

5 thoughts on “Cornish Game Hens with Herb Sauce; spring or not”

  1. kate, they’ve been very pretty this year…. one good thing about spring lol

    spellbinding, also works well with whole chckens

    chamling, you could do them on a barbecue grill.

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