Lemon Leek Roasted Cornish Game Hens

This is a very easy recipe for Cornish game hens. This recipe has a nice lemony flavor that pairs well with the leeks. I just discovered that my local Aldi’s supermarket has great deals on these cute little Cornish hens. I had never cooked them or eaten them before. The closest thing I have had is quail, which I love. So I knew that I would probably love these too. They were wonderful. They were perfectly juicy and full of flavor. I thought game hens would taste gamy in some way, but these didn’t in the least bit. We got 1 hen per person, and I thought it would be fun to get my toddler son his own hen. We had a fun dinner. I served these with the roasted potatoes I posted last week, and roast broccoli.

Yesterday was a great holiday, the day that we honor Dr Martin Luther King. Dr. King was a wonderful man that accomplished so much for all people. He was such an inspiring minister, as well as leader for human rights. When my mother, my adopted mother, was young, she worked in a fancy department store in the shoe department. They were living in Macon, GA at that time. Bear with me, its been years since I have heard this story, and details aren’t my strong suit. In that time, Dr. King and his wife traveled  the south, where he spoke about racial injustice and worked to inspire others. Mrs. King came into the department store where my mother worked to shop, while her husband was busy working. My mother waited on her and she happened to mention that the next day, January 15 was her birthday. Mrs. King said you won’t believe this, tomorrow is my husbands birthday too. My mother was struck by her kindness and of course, her style. She described her as a beautiful, polite, and loving woman. The next day right before the lunch hour, she was surprised to see Mrs. King and her husband, Dr. King there to surprise her for lunch. Mrs. King had told her husband about the shoe lady at the store with the same birthday, and he couldn’t wait to meet with her. They were just one year apart. During their lunch they prayed, talked of God and love, and the end to racial and socioeconomic divides that did and still plague not only the south, but our whole country.

My mother was the daughter of a Baptist minister. This hard working Baptist minister was the son of a share cropper and he was a share cropper most of his life too.  My mother knew about slim times. I think it was a perfect example of what a wonderful man Dr. King was. He took time out from his busy day to take a poor white woman to one the most memorable events of her life. He was a selfless man and cared for all people, regardless of color, or socioeconomic class. He aimed to break racial and economic divides. From the inspiration of Dr. King, one of my mother’s favorite sayings was, “You can’t help who your parents are.” She meant when saying this that you can’t judge someone based on their family, let alone their appearance, which is what many of us do, especially southerners.

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Lemon Leek Roasted Cornish Game Hens

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1 Game hen per person
1 lemon per hen
1 leek per hen
1 tablespoon butter per hen, plus about 1/4 extra melted butter
kosher salt
freshly cracked pepper


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove giblets. Wash hens and pat dry. Salt and pepper inside and outside of hens. Slice leeks and cut lemons in wedges. Stuff the hens with a few lemon wedges and leek slices. Add 1 tablespoon of butter under the skin of the breasts and in the chest cavity.

Place all hens in a baking dish. Arrange extra lemon wedges and leek slices around hens. Pour extra melted butter around hens.

Roast at 400 degrees until the internal temperature is 165 degrees. This should take about 35-45 minutes.

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*Nutritional Information is not guaranteed for 100% accuracy.

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  11 Responses to “Lemon Leek Roasted Cornish Game Hens”

  1. Nicole (Making Good Choices) — January 19, 2010 @ 7:47 pm

    wow – what a wonderful story. thanks for sharing. It’s so nice to be able to share stories like that through food blogs – lovely recipe also 🙂

  2. redkathy — January 20, 2010 @ 3:25 am

    That’s awesome that your mom met Dr King, and has the same birthday too, how amazing is that! I just had Cornish game hens for the first time last week. You are right, they aren’t gamy at all and I expected them to be as well. They were cross bred to be smaller and more tender than a chicken. Their lifespan is very short and they are offered lots of food in order to fatten them quickly. Next time I’ll be trying out this recipe. Thanks for sharing it Angie.

  3. Joanne — January 20, 2010 @ 6:13 pm

    What a fantastic post! MLK Jr. was definitely an amazing person, I’m sure that no one could deny that. You definitely did him and his ideals justice in your commemoration.

    I’ve never had Cornish game hens but these look delicious! I love how you prepared them.

  4. Divina — January 21, 2010 @ 3:27 am

    Beautiful post and a great recipe.

  5. Natasha - 5 Star Foodie — January 21, 2010 @ 8:41 am

    Angie, thank you so much for sharing this wonderful story! And the cornish hens sound really excellent!

    Btw, you post about gaining content back on Foodbuzz is broken. I tried to get to it through the reader and on Foodbuzz and there’s an error of page not found.

  6. Robin G — January 21, 2010 @ 10:16 pm

    The game hens look lovely, and thank you for sharing your family story of Dr King. He truely was a great American.

  7. Barbara — January 22, 2010 @ 9:52 am

    Looks like a lovely recipe. My husband loves game hen, and i’m sure he will be thrilled when i try this out 🙂

  8. Kathleen — January 22, 2010 @ 8:19 pm

    What a lovely story. Your hens look delicious!

  9. deana — January 22, 2010 @ 11:04 pm

    Lovely idea to add the leeks… and lemon chicken is the best!

  10. Scott — January 24, 2010 @ 11:36 pm

    Nice post! I’ve not eaten cornish hen in years yet remember how tasty it was. Your recipe looks amazing. I’ve got a professional chef for a friend and I want to run this one by him to see what he thinks. Thanks!

  11. Eliseo Yslas — March 31, 2010 @ 1:34 pm

    […] Lemon Leek Roasted Cornish Game Hens | Southern Grace Gourmet >> http://southerngracegourmet.com/lemon-leek-roasted-cornish-game-hens >> […]

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