Trouble With Toast

Recipe: Cornish Game Hens with Grapes and Shallots | December 3, 2008

Most of the time, my fiance and I agree on which recipes should go in the “keeper” file and which ones are better suited for the trash bin.  This dish, however, garnered mixed reviews–Jason didn’t care for it at all, but I thought it would be a good standby (with a couple of tweaks).

The biggest change I would make?  Swapping out the Cornish game hens for bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts.  The hens are visually beautiful, but they are damn hard to eat and yield relatively little meat (though their crispy skin was quite a treat).  Also, I would try to get grapes that were already off the stems, and I would either lighty saute or pre-roast the shallots before adding them to the hen/grape pan in the oven, as they weren’t as soft and caramelized as I would have preferred.

I won’t rush to make this recipe again, since my hunny didn’t love it, but if you decide to give it a go, let me know how it turns out–and don’t be afraid of salt in this one, as the grapes and shallots are very sweet!

  • 1 1/2 pounds mixed red and green seedless grapes
  • 8 shallots, root end intact, halved if large
  • 6 sprigs thyme, plus leaves for hens
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 4 Cornish game hens (1 to 1 1/4 pounds each) 

Preheat oven to 450°. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss grapes and shallots with thyme sprigs, oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Tie legs with kitchen twine; nestle hens among grapes on baking sheet, breast side up. Season hens generously with salt and pepper; sprinkle with thyme leaves.

Roast, basting hens occasionally with pan juices, until an instant- read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of leg (avoiding bone) registers 160°, 30 to 35 minutes.



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  1. I love the look of hens so much. I was thinking of doing them for Christmas Eve, but the family wants my filet mignon. Oh well.

    Comment by Lemmonex — December 3, 2008 @ 3:00 pm

  2. Yes, the hens are great in terms of plating. But I might vote for filets, too, even though it’s not my favorite cut of beef (cow is cow, after all).

    Comment by bettyjoan — December 3, 2008 @ 3:57 pm

  3. My mother used to make my sister and me cornish game hens with a grape pilaf stuffing. Thanks for conjuring that memory.

    Comment by restaurantrefugee — December 8, 2008 @ 5:57 pm

  4. Yum, RR, that sounds tasty. Did you learn to cook from your mom?

    Comment by bettyjoan — December 10, 2008 @ 9:26 pm

  5. My husband and I make this recipe often, but we generally use skinless, boneless chicken thighs instead of the hens. The thighs absorb the flavours wonderfully, and the grapes and shallots are delicious. My problem is that I never know what to serve along with it…

    Comment by Sorcha — December 22, 2008 @ 1:38 am

  6. Sorcha, welcome! I struggled with what to serve with the dish, too. When I make it again (with chicken), I’ll probably go for some sort of rice–I think you need a starch to soak up the great flavors of the shallots and grapes!

    Comment by bettyjoan — December 24, 2008 @ 1:26 pm

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