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French Style, Roasted Cornish Hens with Mustard & Herbs

COVID has changed so many things in so many ways for so many.

One of the things that I haven't done in so long is teach my high school culinary summer camps.

Over the last decade, we have cooked everything from maple French toast to raspberry shortbread and had such a fun time. My boys would volunteer so it has been a really great way for them learn about teamwork, leadership skills in a group setting but also a way for me to hang out with them over food.

Sorry, I'm being maudlin.

It probably has something to do with the fact that when this post come out, we'll be elbow deep in move-in boxes as we move our oldest son into his University residence.

New beginnings.

Checklists seem to now rule our lives as we're trying to make damn sure we have it all for the move. Don't worry, I haven't lost it and am making no attempt for the dorm room to be featured in AG.

We're much more at the down-to-earth level of, does he have enough undies and deodorant and everything to do laundry? Ugh! Mr. Hubby keeps reminding me that there is such a thing as AMAZON PRIME so please just stop with my OCD.

Anyway, between the move and getting all my Clients travel docs out for their luxury vacations beginning (just so happens they all fall between Sept 1-4), it's been so so busy that the days leading up to the move have been simple meals and stuff we can throw into the oven and on the grill.

These mustard-herb-rubbed Cornish hens are perfect for insanely busy days and yet nice enough to serve for when friends are over.

This dish is inspired by a traditional French dish where the chicken is roasted with a similar blend of mustard and herbs and then finished with a thick topping of fresh breadcrumbs. It's very much on point except for the fact that I've replaced the chickens with the Cornish hens & altogether disposed of the bread crumbs. I just didn't have any on hand and didn't want to use the premade stuff. But if you'd like to, one-day old stale baguette in the Ninja bullet or alike will do quite nicely. Sprinkle away at the end.

I this version, I'm just using the oven broiler. Super easy to put together and quite delicious and refreshingly flavorful.

Lovely in the oven and lovely on grill (in which case forget the breadcrumbs in top).

Bon Appetite!



Recipe for

Roasted Cornish Hens with Mustard & Herbs

Adapted from  Julia Child’s Kitchen

Shopping List – Serves 4

2 Cornish hens

2 tbsp. butter

1 tbsp. olive oil

4 tbsp. imported Dijon mustard, country or stone ground

Approx. 2 large stalks, fresh tarragon (to yield 2 tbsp. chopped)

Fresh Thyme (to yield 1 tbsp. chopped)

Approx. 5-6 basil leaves (to yield 1 tbsp. chopped)

2 tsp salt

1 tsp black ground pepper

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 tbsp. chilled unsalted butter, to finish sauce


Cornish hens: With sharp kitchen shears, halve the hens along the back & breast bone so each hen is divided into 2 halves. Thoroughly dry with kitchen towels on both sides and place in baking tray or roasting pan.

Salt & Pepper: Measure in a bowl and combine.

Butter & olive oil: Combine together in a sauce pan & heat on medium heat until the butter has melted.

Sprinkle the salt pepper mixture over the Cornish hens. With a pastry brush, apply the butter-oil mixture on both sides.


Turn the oven on to broil.

Broil hens in the preheated oven, 11 minutes skin side down.

While the hens are broiling work quickly:

Thyme: Strip the leaves from the and gather into small mixing bowl.

Tarragon: Strip the leaves from the stem and finely chop. Add the to the thyme.

Basil: Roll up the leaves and chiffonade into strips and then chop. Add to the tarragon.

To the herbs, add the Dijon mustard.

Once the hens are broiled on 1 side, remove from the oven and carefully slightly tilt pan to spoon approx. 3 tbs of the pan juices. Add to the Dijon-herb mixture. Whisk to combine.

Using tongs, turn the hens skin side up. Using a spoon or butter knife, smear the herb-Dijon paste all over the hens.

Roast, skin side up for 11 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and de-glaze the pan with the wine,  not pouring any over the hens. With a spoon, de-glaze & dislodge the brown bits stuck at the bottom of the pan into the wine. Spoon some of this onto the hens.

Return  pan to the oven for another 3 minutes. Remove from the oven and rest onto a platter.

Pour the sauce into a sauce pan. Reduce for approx. 10 minutes or so on medium heat. Whisk the chilled butter into the sauce pan and whisk to slightly thicken as the butter melts.

Taste and adjust seasoning.

Pour over the hens or serve on the side.




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