Game Hens with Roasted Root Veggies

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Cornish Game Hens with Roasted Root Veggies


Game Hens with Roasted Root Veggies does take a little prep time,  maybe 15 – 20 minutes; but in the end, there is only one pan to clean up. So easy to make, then just pop it into the oven. It’s also chock full of those lovely veggies they are always reminding us to eat on a daily basis.  And about those veggies, don’t be shy if you want to add some extra ones.  Love mushrooms, add them.  Brussels Sprouts, go for it.  Mix and match.  But don’t dismiss the ones that I have mentioned here because they are pretty tasty and work really well together.

don’t be shy if you want to add extra veggies


Roasted Game Hens with Roasted Root Vegetables


This is a perfect dinner party recipe as you can prepare it in advance and then just pop it into the oven while you relax and enjoy your company.



Game Hens with Roasted Root Veggies


  • If brining the bird (recommended)

  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • water
  • The Hens

  • 2 cornish game hens (chicken works too)
  • 1 large or 2 small parsnips, cut into 2 inch chunks
  • 3 – 4 turnips, trimmed and cut into quarters lengthwise
  • 6 slender or 3 large carrots, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces if large (if slender, leave whole after trimming)
  • 8 small red potatoes (I found some that were about 2 inches in diameter and they were perfect, if you get bigger ones, go ahead and cut them in halves or quarters)
  • 8 cipolline onions, peeled*
  • 1 head garlic, peeled (you can buy these already done for you, or do it yourself. Place in the microwave for 15 – 20 seconds to help with peeling them)
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 rosemary sprigs
  • 2 sage sprigs (optional if you can’t find them)
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • Salt and pepper
  • Dried thyme
  • 3/4 to 1 cup chicken stock (preferably homemade or low-sodium)


Step 1

I highly recommend brining either Cornish hens or chicken. It just makes them more tasty and juicy. So, combine the salt and sugar in a large deep pot; add cold water and stir until they dissolve. Once dissolved, add the hens and make sure they are submerged in the brine (you can use a plate to make them stay down if they insist on floating) brine for 1 hour, then rinse in cold water and dry well (oil and water don’t mix, so make sure they are dry).

Step 2

While the hens are brining, prepare your vegetables.

If you prep the veggies in advance, you will want to put the parsnips and turnips (and potatoes if you cut them) into a bowl with ice water to keep them from turning ugly; drain and dry them well before proceeding to the next step)

Step 3

Place all the vegetables in a large bowl, add 2 tablespoons olive oil and toss well. Add some thyme, salt and pepper to your liking and toss again. Place the vegetables in the bottom of a roasting pan.

Heat oven to 375 F.

Step 4

Inside of each hen, stick one of the rosemary sprigs, the sage, and 1/4 lemon. Quickly truss the legs and wings to keep them close to the bird. Rub with 1 tablespoon olive oil, season with salt and pepper and set on a roasting rack. Place this over the vegetables. (If you don’t have a roasting rack, place the hens directly on the vegetables.) Place in the oven, shut the door, and go do something else for about an hour.

Step 5

After your hour is up (did you do something fun? I hope so) the vegetable should be tender and the hens cooked, if not, let them go a little longer, you can kick up the heat to 400 °F if you want. Add the chicken stock and let cook in the oven for about 5 – 10 minutes more.

Step 6

Remove the hens to a cutting board, tent loosely with foil and allow to sit for 5 – 10 minutes.

Step 7

Take the roasting pan to the stove and over medium high heat, cook the vegetable, stirring occasionally, until the chicken stock and hen drippings have reduced and nicely glazed the vegetables and they are tender.

Step 8

Remove the “stuffing” from the hens, cut into halves, and serve with the vegetables.

 *The easy way to peel a cipolline onion is to put it briefly into hot boiling water (about 1 minute) then put it into an ice bath. 

Wine Pairing: This dish can be served with white wine, Chardonnay would be perfect, or, because of the herbs and roasted flavors, would stand up to a medium-bodied red, such as a Sangiovese (Chianti in Italy) or a French Beaujolais. 


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Nutritional Info

This information is per serving.
  • Calories
  • Fat
    35g (with skin)
  • Protein
  • Carbohydrate
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Cholesterol
  • Sodium

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