Italian Cornish Hens



This Italian Cornish Hens recipe uses a little dry vermouth and juniper berries to enhance the flavor of the hens. Juniper berries are widely used in Northern Europe to marinade or flavor game dishes. It has a bittersweet aroma with a slightly sweet flavor which reduces the wild game flavor of the meat. Though Cornish Hen is not a game bird, it has a distinct flavor that differs from chicken.

Cornish game hens are basically a crossbreed of a Cornish chicken and another breed. They usually weigh less than two pounds and are mostly white meat. These little chickens can be slow cooked, grilled or roasted and makes for a great presentation at the dinner table.

Italian Cornish Hens are best served with baby carrots or any other root vegetable like turnips or parsnips and roasted red potatoes. If you choose you can also stuff them with your favorite bread or sausage stuffing.


  • 4 rock Cornish game hens
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tsp of juniper berries, crushed
  • 2 lemons, zest
  • 2 cups of chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup of dry vermouth
  • 1 Tbls of dried oregano
  • 1 Tbls of dried basil
  • 1 tsp of dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 tsp of fresh ground black pepper


  • In a large baking dish cover the hens with 1 and a half cups of broth, the lemon zest, juniper berries, garlic and vermouth.
  • Cover and refrigerate overnight turning a few times throughout the 24 hours.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Arrange the hens on a rack in a roasting pan and season with the salt, pepper,oregano, basil and thyme.
  • Tie the legs together and roast for around 40 to 50 minutes until the hens are a golden brown color and the juices run clear.
  • Remove the hens and the rack and place on top of the stove.
  • Place the burners on medium heat and deglaze the pan by pouring the rest of the broth and a little more vermouth into the pan.
  • Scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon and cook until the mixture is reduced in half.
  • Strain the sauce and serve with the hens.

    Serves 4 people.

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