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Roasted Cornish Game Hens with Orange-Honey Glaze

Serves 4

I love Cornish game hens, which are really just small chickens. They have a lovely flavor and tender flesh. If you can find one pound hens, purchase four and serve one per person, allowing for a little less roasting time. However, splitting the birds in half after they are cooked is very easy, and still makes an elegant presentation.


Place the orange juice, honey, sage, rosemary and olive oil in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook until reduced by about one-third. Remove from heat and let cool.

Preheat oven to 400° F. Season the inside of the hens with salt and pepper. Place 1 bay leaf in each. Place in a 12-inch skillet or small, shallow roasting pan. Brush generously with the glaze. Season the outside with additional salt and pepper. Roast, brushing every 10 minutes with the glaze, about 50 minutes, or until the juices run clear when pierced with a fork. Remove from the pan and place on a cutting surface. Let rest about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Pour off any excess fat from the pan. Place over high heat. Add the broth and stir well to deglaze the pan. Add the orange liqueur and cook until reduced by about two-thirds. Cut the hens in half lengthwise. Place one half on individual serving dishes and top with some of the sauce. Serve immediately.

Notes: Always check inside Cornish hens, or any whole poultry, for giblets and remove before roasting. The neck, heart and gizzard of the hens can be cooked for about 45 minutes in about 1-1/2 cups water seasoned with a little salt and pepper, then used in place of the chicken broth.