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Roasted Cornish Games Hens with Tangerine-Herb Butter

Amy Albert

Servings: six.

Slipping butter under the skin is a great way to keep these game hens moist. After roasting, if the birds need additional crisping, run them under the broiler for just a few minutes.


  • 6 Cornish game hens (about 1-1/2 lb. each), neck and giblets removed and discarded or saved for stock, hens rinsed and patted dry
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup fresh tangerine juice (from 1 or 2 tangerines)
  • 8 Tbs. unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 2 shallots, finely minced
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley; plus whole sprigs for serving
  • 2 Tbs. snipped fresh chives
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 Tbs. grated tangerine zest

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 1020
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 580
  • Fat (g): 65
  • Saturated Fat (g): 23
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 11
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 24
  • Cholesterol (mg): 360
  • Sodium (mg): 1500
  • Carbohydrates (g): 3
  • Fiber (g): 0
  • Protein (g): 100


  • Season the cavity of each hen with salt and pepper. In-a small saucepan over medium high heat, reduce the tangerine juice until 1 Tbs. remains. Remove from the heat. In a small skillet over medium heat, melt 1 Tbs. of the butter. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, until soft, about 2 min. Remove from the heat. In a small bowl, mash together the shallots, reduced tangerine juice, parsley, chives, oregano, tangerine zest, and 5 Tbs. of the butter just until combined. Add 1/4 tsp. salt; season with pepper. Transfer to the-freezer for 5 min. to let the butter firm up. (If not using-right away, refrigerate for up to three days.)
  • Heat the oven to 425°F. Insert your fingertips at the wing end of one of the game hen’s breast and gently loosen the skin over the breast and around the legs, being careful not to tear the skin. Slip about 1 Tbs. of the tangerine butter under the skin, smearing it evenly over the breast and thighs. With kitchen twine, tie the legs together. Tuck the wings underneath. Repeat with each hen.

    When easing compound butter under the skin, work gently to avoid tearing.

  • Arrange the hens breast side up on a wire rack set in a shallow roasting pan (or two). Melt the remaining 2 Tbs. butter-and use half to brush over the hens. Season each hen with salt and pepper. Roast the hens for 20 min. Brush with the remaining melted butter. Continue to roast-until the juices run clear when you prick the thickest part of the thigh and an instant- read thermometer inserted in the thigh registers 170°F, another 20 to 25 min. Transfer the hens to a platter, tent with foil, and let stand for 10 min. Serve with a few parsley sprigs next to each hen.


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