Roasted cornish hens with lemons

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Ingredients for 4:

  • Marinates for 8 hours before cooking
  • ¾ cup salt
  • 1 ½ cups orange juice
  • 12 cups water (or enough to cover the hens)
  • 2 Cornish hens, about 1 ½ pounds each
  • 3 lemons
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 T. ITALICO Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup dry white wine


Combine salt, orange juice, and water in a large container. Whisk until salt dissolves. Submerge the hens. Add water if needed to cover fully. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Remove birds from liquid discarding liquid. Cut one lemon in half. Stuff a lemon half and one sprig of rosemary into the cavity of each hen.

Tie legs together with butcher’s twine. Tuck wing tips under. Rub hens with olive oil.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place hens on a lightly greased rack in roasting pan.

Cut remaining two lemons in half. Rub with ITALICO Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Place lemons on a small pan lined with foil and put into oven with roasting pan.

Roast hens and lemons for 40-45 minutes or until juices in hen run clear.

Remove hens and roasting rack from pan, set aside. Reserve drippings in roasting pan. Loosely cover hens with foil.

Heat roasting pan on stovetop over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until browned, stirring constantly. Add white wine. Cook for 4 minutes while scraping browned bits from pan.

Remove backbones and cut hens in half before serving. Serve with lemon half and white wine sauce.