Parchment-Roasted Cornish Game Hens with Maple Root Vegetables

April  4, 2021
3 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg
  • Prep time 4 hours 30 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

Brining your hens results in flavorful, moist birds with fall-off-the bone meat and plenty of pan juices for spooning over this one-bag supper. An extra-large roasting bag accommodates the hens and veggies all at once, plus it makes cleanup a snap. Feel free to substitute other root veggies such as rutabaga, fingerling potatoes, rainbow carrots, or golden beets, depending on your personal tastes and what looks best at your local market. —Judy Haubert

Test Kitchen Notes

This recipe was developed in partnership with If You Care. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup, plus 1/4 cup, divided
  • 1/3 cup kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 4 Cornish game hens (1 to 1 1/2 pounds each)
  • 1 small bunch thyme, divided
  • 1/2 cup apricot jam
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce (or gluten-free tamari)
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • 1 dash freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 8 medium radishes, halved
  • 3 medium carrots (use rainbow for extra color), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 small fennel bulbs, trimmed, halved, and sliced into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  1. Combine 3 cups hot water, 1/3 cup maple syrup, and 1/3 cup kosher salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add 3 cups ice water and stir until cool. Add the hens and 8 to 10 thyme sprigs to the brine and place a small plate directly on top of the birds to keep them submerged. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Remove hens from the brine, pat them dry, and season with salt and pepper. Place 3 to 4 thyme sprigs in each hen cavity. Combine the remaining 1/4 cup maple syrup with the jam, melted butter, soy sauce, ginger, and salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Toss the vegetables with the remaining thyme sprigs, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place an extra-large parchment roasting bag on a rimmed baking sheet and spread the vegetables in an even layer inside. Place the hens on top of the vegetables and brush evenly and thickly with the apricot-maple glaze. Tightly seal the bag by folding and crimping along the edges.
  4. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the breast of the hens (through the parchment) reads 165° F, about 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and cut through the top of the bag using kitchen shears, and pull back the parchment to expose the hens. Increase oven temperature to 550° F and return to the oven until the skin is crisped and browned, about 10 minutes more. Divide the hens and vegetables between four plates and spoon pan juices over top.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Amanda Moose
    Amanda Moose
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  • Jounayet Rahman
    Jounayet Rahman

3 Reviews

Jounayet R. January 14, 2023
This sounds like a wonderful recipe! I'm going to try it out for my company's potluck next week.
Amanda M. November 11, 2022
Amazing and delicious, especially the crispy, cartelized skin. I used fig preserves instead of apricot and will do again for Thanksgiving.
on_a_whim April 4, 2021
This was delicious! The meat was so tender and nearly fell off the bone. The veggies were a bit sweet for me, but overall highly recommend!