Cornish game hens are such an easy and fun thing to cook. When our Safeway has them for about $3 each I stockpile the freezer. They're always a hit at parties and would be a no-stress alternative to turkey for the holidays. Or just a quick Sunday dinner like we had last weekend.
To roast them, I use techniques borrowed from Chez Panisse and Zuni chicken recipes:
Roasted Cornish Game Hens
2 Rock Cornish Game Hens
Zest of 1 lime, lemon or orange
1 clove of garlic
Kosher salt (about 1/4 cup)
Pepper (about 2 tablespoons)
Thaw the sealed game hens in a bowl of warm water (takes 2/3 hours). Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Unwrap the hens and drain. Prepare the thawed birds by using your fingers to loosening the skin on the breast and leg. Dry the internal cavities with a paper towel. Use a microplane to zest the citrus and grate the garlic into a small bowl. Mix that combination with a heaping tablespoon of kosher salt and teaspoon of pepper. Rub the mixture under the skin on the breast and thigh meat. Rub the outside of the hens with ample salt and pepper. Truss the legs together with twine and set in a small pan. Put a small pat of butter on top of each bird.
Roast the hens, breast up, for 30 minutes. Carefully turn over the hens and roast for 10 minutes. Turn back over and bake until the middle of the breast reads 165 degrees with a meat thermometer. Pull from the oven immediately.
These hens are a great match with super-fast mashed potatoes:
4 medium red potatoes
1 tablespoon of butter
2 teaspoons of truffle oil
1 green onion (chopped green part)
Salt & pepper
Add the potatoes to boiling water when the hens go into the oven. If they don't cook fast enough, slice them in half. A few minutes before the hens are done, drain the potatoes and put back in the pan with the skin on. Add the butter and truffle oil and go to work with a potato masher. Season with salt and pepper and add the green onions. Mash once more and serve.