When I was kid, my dad would occasionally make Cornish Hens for dinner. It was such a treat, because we got one of these cute little “chickens” all to ourselves. I think they’re technically a two-serving bird, but it meant we each got a leg and a thigh – the parts we usually fought over. As an adult I’ve made Cornish Hens a few times. I’ve put stuffing in them before, but I prefer to stuff the cavity with onions for flavor.
Our Thanksgiving plans went all skeewampus and it ended up we were going to be home that night. This is the first time I can remember in my adult life (though there may have been one other time) that I didn’t end up going to a family member’s house for the feast. There was only four of us eating and I’ve never made a turkey. Besides, turkeys are huge and I didn’t think I could handle eating turkey for days. On top of that, I really only had a couple of days notice, so I didn’t have time to thaw and cook the turkey, even if I wanted to. Which I didn’t.
Cornish hens seemed like the perfect thing to serve. I don’t think the guys were overly thrilled about “having” to carve their own birds, but it brought back childhood memories for me. Obviously this isn’t just a Thanksgiving dish. It would work great for Christmas or any other time you just want to make a special dinner. Oh, and the coolest thing: since there were four birds, we got four teeny tiny wishbones that are currently drying. That’s four wishes instead of just one. The best part? These birds are Whole30 approved!
4 Cornish Game Hens
1⁄2 large sweet onion
4 tsp ghee, divided (sub butter if desired)
Ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13x9 baking dish and set aside.
Rinse hens and pat dry. Put 1 tsp ghee inside the cavity of each bird. Cut the onion into four large chunks and stuff onion in the cavity with the ghee. Arrange hens breast side up in the baking dish. Zest half the lemon and squeeze half the lemon juice over the hens, dividing equally between each. Flip hens over (they are now breast side down) and sprinkle with salt, pepper, thyme and paprika.
Bake for one hour to one hour and fifteen minutes depending on the size of the bird. Internal temperature should reach 165. Baste every ten minutes or so after the first 45 minutes. Let stand for about ten minutes before serving.