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Braised Cornish Hens Recipe

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Braised Cornish Hens Recipe

© 2010 Peggy Trowbridge Filippone
Cornish game hens are filled with a potato, apple, and turnip stuffing and braised in a Calvados apple brandy pan sauce. If you are unable to use alcohol or just do not have it on hand, read the Notes at the end of the recipe for substitutions.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes


  • 2 cups chicken broth, divided use
  • 14 ounces turnips, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (may substitute red or Yukon Gold potatoes)
  • 1 Golden Delicious apple, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh-grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 12 ounces baking potatoes, baked until tender
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 (about 20 ounces each) Cornish hens
  • 1 Tablespoon (about) browning sauce (such as Gravy Master or Kitchen Bouquet)
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Calvados, Applejack, or brandy (see Notes)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened apple juice
  • Additional chicken broth
  • Red and green apple wedges and watercress for garnish


Place 1-1/4 cups of the chicken broth, turnips, apples, onions, oregano, thyme, nutmeg, and rosemary in a heavy saucepan. Cover and simmer about 30 minutes until turnips are tender. Drain off liquid, reserving for later use, and return vegetables to the saucepan.

Cut baked potatoes in half. Scoop out the flesh, discard skin, and add to the turnips and apples in the saucepan along with 1 teaspoon butter, salt, and pepper. Coarsely mash the vegetables, leaving some large lumps. Let cool to room temperature.

Rub the skin of the Cornish hens with the browning sauce. (This helps give that golden finish without adding flavor.) Stuff the hens with the vegetable mixture. Sew or skewer openings shut and tie legs together. Lightly salt the outside of the birds.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Heat a large, heavy, oven-proof skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When hot, add the olive oil and butter, swirling to coat the bottom of the pan. Brown Cornish hens on all sides, 6 to 8 minutes. Place browned hens on a platter and keep warm.

Add Calvados to the skillet and boil, scraping up any browned bits, about 30 seconds. Stir in remaining 3/4 cup chicken broth, apple juice, and reserved liquid from the vegetables. Boil briskly until reduced and thickened, about 5 minutes.

Return Cornish hens, breast-side up, to the skillet and spoon liquid over the tops. Place in preheated oven, uncovered, and bake about 45 minutes until tender (165 F on a meat thermometer). Baste with the pan juices every 10 minutes. If the liquid has evaporated, add additional chicken broth. When done, remove Cornish hens to a platter and let rest for 10 minutes. Whisk in additional chicken broth to the pan drippings if too thick.

To serve, remove strings and skewers. Cut each Cornish hen in half lengthwise and place on a platter. Garnish with apple slices and watercress and pass the pan juices in a gravy boat.

Yield: 6 servings

You may substitute apple wine, sparkling apple cider, additional apple juice, or additional chicken broth for the alcohol.

Braised Cornish Hens Recipe Photo © 2010 Peggy Trowbridge Filippone, licensed to About.com, Inc.
User Reviews

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 5 out of 5
Cornish Gam Hens, Member speakman.dave

This recipe made a great dinner. We rated it a B+. The stuffing was especially good and and would go with other entres. The only complaint was that the actual preparation time was around 3 hours not including cooking the baked potato a head of timel

5 out of 5 people found this helpful.

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