TARRAGON GAME HENS
Cornish game hens basted in tarragon butter
This method of "basting" fowl by spreading an herb butter under the skin
infuses the meat with the flavor of the herbs which usually is kept on the
skin with normal external basting.
- 2 Cornish game hens
- 6 Tbsp butter,
at room temperature
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp dried tarragon,
of fresh tarragon)
- 1/8 tsp salt
Preheat oven to
Prepare the hens by rinsing thoroughly, checking for pin feathers, and patting
dry. Be sure to remove yellow fat found at the cavity opening.
Gently separate the skin from the flesh by sliding your fingers between
and tearing the connecting membrane. It is easiest to begin at the cavity
opening and work up the breast. Leave skin attached at the
of the wings and base of the legs. Work carefully over the
breastbone area so as not to tear the skin which is firmly attached at this
Thoroughly blend the butter, lemon juice, tarragon and salt.
If the butter is not soft, it will be difficult to incorporate the lemon
Using your fingers, spread a layer of herb butter under the loosened skin
of each hen.
Spread a small amount on the skin.
Tuck wings under the back of the hen and set each hen on its side, breast
down on a roasting rack over a roasting pan.
Roast for 15 minutes, then turn hens to other side. Roast for another
15 minutes, then set hens on their backs with breast up and roast for
a final 15 minutes (total cooking time about 45 minutes). Each time the
hens are turned, baste by spooning pan juices over the bird. Hens
are fully cooked when juices run clear and drumstick moves easily in
Remove birds to a warm platter and let sit for 5 minutes. Reduce pan
juices to a thin glaze consistency over high heat and serve as a sauce.
(You may want to flavor the pan juices with a little dry white wine.)
Quarter birds before serving. Each bird should serve two people.
This basting method can also be used when grilling, either over a barbecue
or in the broiler. I prefer barbecuing to oven roasting in
the summer (I tend to roast along with the birds) and prepare the birds
a little differently in this case. Rather than grilling whole, before
the butter is spread under the skin, each bird is split along the spine
using a sharp heavy knife. This is quite easy since the spine and ribs
are easily cut with moderately heavy pressure and rocking motion on the knife
blade. I then spread the bird, breast up, and crack the breast bone
to flatten with a sharp blow on the breast with the heel of my hand. The
wings are tucked under themselves and the legs and thighs left loose.
The birds can be cooked ahead of time and taken on a picnic or prepped in
advance and grilled at the picnic.
Margarine may be substituted for the butter
without major noticeable effects on the flavor.
In the summer, I like to serve either a tabbouleh or Italian tomato salad
(quartered RIPE tomatoes sprinkled with chopped fresh basil and drizzled
with olive oil) and a white zinfadel.
Since I like herb butters with all kinds of fish and fowl and have an
herb garden, I generally make up 2 cups or more of herb butter at a time,
using a food processor to assure thorough blending. The butter keeps
well in the fridge for 2-3 weeks.
15 minutes preparation, 45 minutes cooking.
approximate measurement OK.
UCLA Comprehensive Epilepsy Program, Los Angeles, California
Recipe last modified: 10 Jun 86
From: pam@cepu (Pamela McGarvey)
Subject: RECIPE: Tarragon game hens
Date: 12 Sep 86 03:31:33 GMT
Organization: UCLA Comprehensive Epilepsy Program, Los Angeles
Replied: 10 Jun 86 15:20
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