I'm wanting to slow roast 4 Cornish game hens in a turkey roaster. How long and at what temp should I cook them?
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Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.
More info please! A Cornish hen is really just a young small chicken with a fancy name - so chicken roasting rules apply. Honestly I would tend to roast them hot and fast BUT - if you want to go slower I would say 325, and I imagine somewhere a bit over an hour would do it. Rely on your thermometer to be sure because factors such as trussing, whether or not you hide some goodies in the body cavity, your oven's peculiarities, etc. will affect roasting time. The temp at the thigh should hit 160. Think about brining - it makes the cook time much more forgiving, you can roast longer without risking a dry bird. Plus it's delicious! Good luck and let us know how it goes!
Michael is a food critic and established cookbook author -- Ruhlman's Twenty and Egg: A Culinary Exploration are the most recent additions to his vast body of work.
why on earth SLOW roast? Point? Turkey roaster? Baffling.
3 Cornish Hens, 2 Turtle Doves, and a Partridge in a Pear Tree!!
You don't mention if you plan to stuff them. Or your oven temp. There are recipes online that use a 300 degree oven for 1 1/2 hrs. I never thought of tucking four of them into a turkey roasting pan. Good idea!!
As per aargersi's advice, an accurate, digital thermometer is your friend. Use it. It will tell you when the meat is done. High-heat roasting is actually a better method for smaller birds like Cornish hens. It will brown and crisp the skin nicely. A slow roast will cook the birds through just fine, but you will get very little browning action, which, to me, is the best part of eating chicken. If you aren't interested in the skin, then whether you slow roast or high-heat roast is your choice. Just use a thermometer to check for doneness. When we do chicken, we don't wet brine them. We simply dry them off, sprinkle with plenty of salt, and let them hang out in the fridge overnight. This dries the skin and helps it get nice and crisp in the oven. We don't baste as we find it doesn't make much difference, and it causes the oven to lose heat and have to warm up every time you open the door. Happy roasting!
My favorite prep for Cornish hens is to loosen the skin carefully with your fingers and slide a combination of softened Irish butter with some chopped herbs( usually some rosemary along with some pepper) under the skin. Once the butter mixture is under the skin, you can smooth it out and evenly distribute it over the breast and wherever else you can reach without tearing the skin. I rub whatever is left of the butter on the outside skin, tuck some lemon slices in the cavity and roast at 350. The skin gets really crispy and the hens stay very moist.