Cider Roasted Cornish Hens and Root Vegetables

When it was just me and the hubby at Christmas, it was really hard for me to suppress my big family meal urges and not roast a whole turkey or leg of lamb. We'd have turkey for days - pot pies, soups, stews, empanadas, quesadillas - one day I'll get all of my 101 ways to use turkey recipes posted.

But just the other night I had a craving for something roasted, but it was 5:30 by the time I got home and we usually eat dinner at 7, so time was a problem. Luckily I had picked up a couple of fresh cornish hens from the market which were sitting in the fridge, as well as a half bushel of beautiful root vegetables and homemade cider vinegar.  I just spatchcocked and seasoned my birds, cut up the veggies, made a simple cider vinegar sauce, and popped it all in the oven.  The house smelled wonderful and dinner was served promptly at 7.  This would make a beautiful Christmas dinner for 2-4 people.


2 Cornish Hens, spatchcocked

3 tablespoons melted butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 large shallots, peeled and quartered

2 granny smith apples, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes

1 large celery root, celery stems and leaves removed and roughly chopped, root peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes

2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch slices

2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 1 inch slices

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes

2-3 baby turnips, scrubbed and quartered, greens removed and roughly chopped (optional)

2 tablespoons raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon honey

Sprigs of fresh sage, rosemary, and thyme

Fine kosher salt and black pepper


1. Preheat oven to 425F.

2. Season the cornish hens all over with a pinch of salt and pepper.

3.  Place all of the vegetables and apples in a large roasting dish.  Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper, and sprinkle over the olive oil.  Toss gently with your hands, then push to the sides of the roasting dish to make room for the cornish hens.

4.  Place the cornish hens skin side up and side-by-side in the roasting pan, in the middle of the vegetables.  Pour the melted butter over the cornish hens.

5.  Whisk the vinegar and honey together and sprinkle evenly over the vegetables and cornish hens. Scatter the sprigs of sage, rosemary, and thyme around the birds.

6.  Place the roasting pan on a center rack in the oven and roast, uncovered, for 35-40 minutes.  After the first 20 minutes of roasting toss the vegetables gently in the pan and baste the hens with pan juices.  Do this again after another 15 minutes, making sure not to burn the vegetables.

7.  Remove from the oven when the hens are browned and the vegetables are caramelized.  Let rest for a couple of minutes before serving.