HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Cornish Hen question ....

The market near my house where we buy our carne asada sells marinated cornish hens.

We tried them and liked them.

But ....

We weren't really sure how to cook them.

We ended up wrapping each one in foil and cooked like 45 minutes then uncovered them and cooked another 15 minutes or so with the foil open.

They cooked through and tasted good but the skin didn't crisp. The meat was really juicy, but I would have preferred a crisp skin.

The guy at the market says I could grill them, but I wasn't sure what to do.

The hens are about 1.5 pounds each -- give or take. I'd like to use the grill or the oven/broiler.

So, anyone have a suggestion on how to cook them? They are preseasoned, so I don't need a recipe -- just looking for cooking instructions.

Thanks so much!!!!!!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. No need to wrap them in foil. Just roast them like chicken...but for less time.

    1 Reply
    1. I'd spatchcock them and toss them on the grill over indirect heat.

      1 Reply
      1. re: tacosandbeer

        This is what I do most often. I also weight them with a foil-covered brick for all but the last few minutes. I find it makes them juicier. Some people put foil over the wing when they do this, but I don't see a need.

        Another alternative is to steam them until done, let them air dry on a wire rack, then deep fry them until they are golden brown -- just a couple minutes. It makes the skin very crispy and the steaming makes the meat juicy. This is my wife's favorite way. (I sometimes smoke them, too. That makes them sort of like traditional tea smoked duck, but with cornish hens. As I am not sure what the marinade is like, I'm not sure smoking would be great for these birds you got.)

      2. Spatchcock them and you can actually grill them over direct heat (I read this in Planet Barbecue, tried it with some skepticism, and it worked out great), or instead roast the spatchcocked birds at 500 (or as close as your oven can get) for about 30 minutes and they will crisp up beautifully. There are loads of videos on how to spatchcock if you don't know how-- couldn't be easier.

        1. Yep,spatchcock it and throw it on the grill as the others said.If you do TSB's indirect method,you can move it tto the hot side of the grill and finish it direct to crisp up the skin for 5+minutes.I'd throw some wood chips wrapped in a foil pack for great smoke flavor while doing it indirect,,One time I did bake them in the oven,but they came out like the Clarke Griswold's turkey. My screwup.Those game hens are some great eatin shikken.

          1. I sometimes brush the outsides with something a bit sweet like balsamic, or a little jam or even a pinch of sugar. It will help crisp the skin faster if you're not cooking them for very long. Good luck and please report back!

            1. Many years ago someone made me privvy to pouring boiling water on the bird before roasting and seasoning. I get crispy shattering glass skin every time if you roast til the juices run clear. Or a meat thermometer or probe. Try it.

              10 Replies
              1. re: suzigirl

                suzigirl - do you need to pierce the skin before the boiling water step? Or is it that simple? I see roast bird in my very near future!

                1. re: tacosandbeer

                  I just pop it in a collander and pour. It works on all kinds of poultry, even the pieces. Just that simple.

                  1. re: suzigirl

                    Thanks - can't wait to give that a try.

                    1. re: tacosandbeer

                      It is amazing something so simple can change a little tweetie into something stellar.

                2. re: suzigirl

                  isn't that done with chinese duck, too? (if i recall correctly).

                  i'll try it next time with any poultry. thanks for the tip, suzigirl.

                  1. re: alkapal

                    Yes, I believe so. And the skin is delicious as can be. :-)

                  2. re: suzigirl

                    should we dry it off after pouring the hot water over it?

                    1. re: darrentran87

                      For sure. Dry it completely and then you can oil it and season it but I skip the oil.

                    2. re: suzigirl

                      I'm going to try that next time we buy raw chicken or hens. With the particular hens I was writing about when I started this thread -- we buy them already marinated. So pouring the water over them will wash off the seasonings and the like.

                      But, thanks for the tip. I'll surely try it.

                      1. re: PaulF

                        Its a great tip that really works. Its so simple, too.

                    3. What about a BIG tweetie bird???? as in a turkey???

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: laredo

                        I trust that it will work as I was shown with a goose. It hinges on the water being HOT. If you see goosebumps where the feathers were plucked you are golden. The water was hot enough. You can oil if you want to and season accordingly. I skip the oil. You need to cook in a hot oven as usual. Try it, I aware by it.

                        1. re: suzigirl

                          I swear by it. I hate spellcheck.