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Grilled Cornish Game Hens

Thursday, July 13, 2017

We don't know about you, but by mid-July we are pretty much over grilled burgers and hot dogs. Today's Tasty Tuesday is a healthy and easy game hen alternative that most folks adore.

We served these hens with pasta salad, a variety of summer-abundant red, orange and yellow grilled bell peppers, and icy cold cream of kale soup shooters, for a starter. 

The lavender on the serving platter is just for additional summer color. 

One half of a Cornish hen is frequently a large enough serving for most women, but particularly hungry men of all ages will usually eat two half-hen servings, so plan accordingly. 


4 Cornish hens, about 1 pound each

1 tablespoons good quality sea salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves

3 tablespoon juice and 2 tablespoon zest from 2 or 3 lemons

4 medium cloves finely minced garlic 

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


Pat hens dry with paper towels and place breast-side down on a large cutting board. Using sharp kitchen shears, remove the backbone by cutting along either side of it. Turn hens over and lay out flat. Press firmly on breast to flatten the chicken. 

Combine salt, pepper, rosemary, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, and olive oil in a small bowl and stir with fingers until homogenous. Rub mixture evenly over all surfaces of hens. If possible, let the hens rest in this rub for about an hour before grilling.

Place hens skin-side up directly over the coals or over the preheated grate of a gas grill. Cover and cook until lightly charred on bottom, about 5 minutes. Carefully flip birds skin-side down.

Cover and continue to cook until golden brown, crisp, charred in spots, and center of breasts registers 145° to 150°F on an instant- read thermometer, about 15 minutes longer. If birds threaten to burn before temperature is achieved, carefully slide to cooler side of grill, cover, and cook until done. Remove from grill, let rest 5 minutes, and serve.

Nutritional value

Cornish hens are rich in essential amino acids and particularly high in arginine and lysine, which helps build protein, form collagen and produces carnitine, which converts fatty acids to energy. Cornish hens also provide healthy levels of tryptophan, the natural mood regulator that also improves sleep quality.

Eat well and enjoy!

Ellen Troyer with David Amess and the Biosyntrx staff