Succulent. Spicy. Sweet. Savory. These Roasted Cornish Game Hens with Citrus Chipotle Glaze with Mexican flavors are a lovely main course for two, and easily scaled up for more! Serve with glazed winter vegetables and cilantro rice for a simple but elegant holiday menu.
👩🏻🍳 Tamara Talks - About Christmas Dinner for Two
Yum. When considering options for a Cozy Christmas for Two in 2017, an option that immediately came to mind was Cornish game hens. I have done them for larger groups - 12 (or so) - in 2013 (I think). But they really are perfect for a romantic dinner for two or a smaller gathering! They cook in about an hour, and can be stuffed and/or glazed in so many different ways.
If you saw my last post - Pomegranate Glazed Winter Vegetables - you've read about how this recipe came to be. We love Latin/Mexican flavors, and I work hard at incorporating those flavors into our diets. The dishes that ensue likely do not meet the definition of "authentic," but they're always tasty! Roasted Cornish Game Hens with Citrus Chipotle Glaze is no exception.
So, Mark and I have found it impossible to have a major holiday at home with our "kids" living all over the country! We still enjoy the opportunity to create a menu that is special for the two of us before we check in at the airport and head to our holiday destination. I created this menu for my husband and me, knowing we're not the only ones looking for a scaled down holiday menu! I know plenty of us spend the holidays with just our "significant other" or a small group, love amazing home-cooked food, and want an appropriate menu to make that happen. Without further ado...
Oysters With Bacon, Blood Orange, and Jalapeño Mignonette
Roasted Cornish Game Hens with citrus chipotle and pomegranate glaze
Pomegranate Glazed Winter Vegetables
Mexican Chocolate Trifle with Orange Curd and Pomegranate Pudding
📋 Ingredients Notes
Here is a quick look at the ingredients in the recipe – it’s handy to use at the grocery store or as a summary of what you need. Skip to the recipe for quantities.
- Cornish game hens - While Cornish game hens make a beautiful presentation, you can adapt the recipe for whole chicken, turkey, pork roast, etc.
- cinnamon sticks
- citrus - Clementines, tangerines, and other small citrus are perfect!
- onion - I like sweet onion for the glaze, but use what you have on hand.
- olive oil
- ground cumin
- pomegranate juice
- pomegranate molasses - If you can't find pomegranate molasses, you can make pomegranate molasses at home.
- Mexican oregano - Substitute Mediterranean oregano if necessary.
- chipotle peppers in adobo
- garnishes - I suggest fresh cilantro, pomegranate arils, and/or small citrus.
- Prepare the game hens - Preheat oven to 450° (425° convection). Make sure your hens are very dry. Stuff 2 cinnamon sticks (use kitchen shears to cut them if necessary), 3 cloves garlic, half the orange slices, and half the onion wedges into the cavity. You may need to push them around a bit. Repeat for the other hen. Brush with melted butter, and season with salt and pepper. Truss the hens by tying the wings and legs with kitchen twine.
- Roast the game hens - Place in hot oven. After 15 minutes, reduce heat to 375° (350° convection). Baste with pan juices and brush with glaze every 8-10 minutes until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees (165 may give you a dry hen). Tent with foil and a towel until ready to plate them.
- Make the glaze - While the hens roast, make the glaze/sauce for your hens. Start by heating the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until the onion is transparent but not browning. Add the ground cumin and garlic. Sauté an additional 1-2 minutes. Add the pomegranate juice, Mexican oregano, pomegranate molasses, orange juice and zest, cinnamon sticks, and chipotle in adobo. Bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Simmer 10-15 minutes until slightly reduced (by about 25%).
- Finish the glaze - Strain mixture. Rinse the saucepan, and towel dry. Return the strained sauce to the pan. Make a slurry of cornstarch and broth/water. Add to the sauce. Bring to a boil to fully activate the cornstarch. (Mixture should be thickened like a pancake syrup). When the sauce is finished, brush the hens after basting with pan juices - every 8-10 minutes until ready.
- Serve - Untie the hens, remove aromatics (if desired). Pour the sauce over the hens, and garnish with chopped cilantro, pomegranate arils, and fresh orange slices as desired.
A good instant read thermometer is essential for properly cooked poultry. Cornish game hens are dry when overcooked.
Cook the Cornish game hens to an internal temperature of 160°, then tent with foil. Juices should run clear. Some sources suggest a higher temperature, and they will be dry. This Correct Chicken Temperature article applies to poultry in general, and is a good guideline.
The macronutrients on the recipe card are for ½ per person. This amount yields approximately 46 grams of protein per person (generous amount!). I still serve a whole hen per person when the occasion calls for it (like Christmas). It looks lovely on the plate.
If you have a substantial amount, try using it in place of rotisserie chicken in this chicken salad recipe. It would also work well in these mole verde bowls. If you love chicken soup, try the leftover game hen in a chicken tortilla soup.
Keep it as you would chicken, up to 5 days in the refrigerator and 1 to 2 months in the freezer.
🧂 Useful Stuff
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My decorating this year was minimal: The tablescape (above), a pre-lit wreath in the entry, and a table top tree... Yes, it's simple, but it's festive, and when enjoyed with a beautiful meal and a loved one, it's perfect! Saturday we fly to Charlotte, North Carolina for 8 days with Nils (oldest), his wife Jamie, little grandsons Cade (3) and Carter (2), our third son Gaelen, and my sister Corinne. I can hardly wait to give smoochies to our littles... We'll have lots of fun in the kitchen together
and clean up many dirty dishes! I'd like to take this opportunity to wish you, and your loved ones, a most joyous and peaceful Christmas!
Roasted Cornish Game Hens with Citrus Chipotle Glaze
Cornish Game Hens
- 2 small Cornish game hens - thoroughly patted dry!
- 4 3" pieces cinnamon stick
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 small clementine or tangerine - sliced thin
- 1 small onion - cut in thin wedges
- ½ stick butter - melted
- sea salt/fresh ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ sweet onion - chopped
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 cup pomegranate juice
- 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
- 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
- 2 small clementines, tangerines, or oranges - zested and juiced
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 chipotle chile in adobo
- ¼ cup broth or water
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- sea salt/fresh ground pepper
- cilantro - chopped
- pomegranate - arils
- clementine/tangerine/orange - slices
- Preheat oven to 450 F (425 convection).
- Pat game hens dry. Stuff 2 cinnamon sticks, 3 cloves garlic, half the orange slices, and half the onion wedges into the cavity. You may need to push them around a bit. Repeat for the other hen. Brush with melted butter, and season with salt and pepper. Truss the hens by tying the wings and legs with kitchen twine.
- Place in hot oven. After 15 minutes, reduce heat to 350 F (350 convection). Baste with pan juices and brush with glaze every 8-10 minutes until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees (165 may give you a dry hen). Tent with foil and a towel until ready to plate them.
- While game hens roast, make the glaze. Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, and saute until the onion is transparent but not browning.
- Add the ground cumin and garlic. Saute an additional 1-2 minutes. Add the pomegranate juice, Mexican oregano, pomegranate molasses, orange juice and zest, cinnamon sticks, and chipotle in adobo.
- Bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Simmer 10-15 minutes until slightly reduced (by about 25%).
- Strain, and return the strained sauce to the pan. Make a slurry of cornstarch and broth/water. Add to the sauce. Bring to a boil to fully activate the cornstarch.
- When the sauce is finished, brush the hens after basting with pan juices - ever 8-10 minutes until ready.
- Untie the hens, remove aromatics (if desired). Pour the sauce over the hens, and garnish with chopped cilantro, pomegranate arils, and fresh orange slices as desired.
NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and MyFitnessPal.com. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.
I love game hens, and this is a really great way to fix them.
You forgot to mention the delicious glaze honey 😉