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Roasted Cornish Game Hens with Pesto & Goat Cheese

Scott Phillips

Servings: six.



  • 6 Tbs. homemade or prepared basil pesto
  • 1/3 cup fresh goat cheese (about 2-1/2 oz.), at room temperature
  • 3 large Cornish game hens (1-1/2 to 2 lb. each), giblets removed
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Nutritional Information

  • Nutritional Sample Size based on six servings
  • Calories (kcal) : 510
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 340
  • Fat (g): 38
  • Saturated Fat (g): 11
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 8
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 17
  • Cholesterol (mg): 210
  • Sodium (mg): 560
  • Carbohydrates (g): 1
  • Fiber (g): 1
  • Protein (g): 37


  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 425°F. Arrange a large wire rack over a large rimmed baking sheet or shallow roasting pan. In a small bowl, combine the pesto and goat cheese, mashing it with a fork until evenly mixed.
  • Place a hen, breast-side down, on a cutting board. Remove the backbone by cutting along both sides with poultry shears. Flip the hen and flatten it by pressing down on the breastbone with your palms. With a chef’s knife, split the hen in two along the breastbone. Extend the wings on each side, and chop off the last two joints. Remove and discard any large deposits of fat. Repeat with the remaining hens.
  • With your fingers, loosen the skin over the breast and leg. Insert a heaping tablespoon of the pesto mixture under the skin, and work it so it evenly covers the breast and leg meat. Smooth the skin back to its original position and repeat with the remaining hens. The hens may be prepared up to this point and refrigerated for several hours. 
  • Arrange the hens on the large wire rack. They should not overlap. Brush the surface of the hens with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast the hens, rotating the pan about halfway through, until they’re nicely browned and the juices run clear when a thigh is pricked with a skewer or toothpick, about 30 minutes. Cover loosely with foil and allow to rest for about 5 minutes before serving.


Rate or Review

Reviews (2 reviews)

  • joyfullady | 12/30/2019

    While I appreciate the simplicity of this dish, I probably won't make it again as the flavors weren't very interesting or complex.

  • user-3118048 | 04/28/2014

    Very juicy, great dish for companyIt was very easy to prepare ahead then when guest arrived I put it in the oven. Could not be easier and full of flavor.

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