Updated: May 11, 2020
Growing up, my mother made Cornish Hen's often, with potatoes, carrots, celery and onions. I could smell aroma rising upstairs from her counter-top, plug-in, dome-top, electric skillet. She'd use nothing more than those veggies, seasoned salt (a southern black woman's secret seasoning weapon), and ground black pepper. I adored the hens' smallness, neatness, and their tender flavor. What was even better was the sweetness that the veggies took on, as they roasted alongside the tiny birds. The caramelized onion, and potato bottoms. Yum!
Here is my version of a one-skillet Cornish hen dinner for two. I use my medium cast iron skillet, and cut the hens in half, using cooking shears. If you're cooking for more than two, you'll want to use a large cast-iron skillet to sear them over the stove, then transfer the skillet directly to the oven. Or, you can sear them in a large skillet and transfer to a roasting pan to finish off in the oven. However you choose, this makes for a simple and lovely dinner.
INGREDIENTS (for 2)
1 Cornish Hen, cut in half
2-3 whole shallots, sliced in half length-wise (Sub: onions, or whole garlic cloves)
3 large carrots, cut in large chunks
2 celery stocks, cut into large cuts
1 large potato, cut in half, then quartered halves
2 TBS herb blend (sage, thyme, rosemary) (Sub: ground sage, dried thyme, dried rosemary)
2 TBS course sea salt, divided
1 tsp ground pepper
2 tsp onion powder (optional)
2 tsp garlic powder (optional)
1 1/2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
Mix ground pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder.
Clean and dry hen by blotting it with a paper towel.
Add 1 TBS salt to both sides, and work some underneath the skin using your finger, but don't remove skin. Just find ways to work the salt underneath. Allow to sit for 10 mins.
Chop up vegetables in large chunks - think large enough for them not to shrivel while roasting with the hen.
In a large bowl, mix vegetables with 1/2 TBS oil, and sprinkle 1/2 of you pepper-powder mix and 1 TBS salt + 1 TBS of your herb mix. Toss around until evenly covered. Set aside.
Toss the remaining herb and powder mix onto your hen halves and rub around evenly.
Take a cool cast-iron skillet, add 1 TBS oil and place hen halves, skin side down. Turn heat to medium-high. Wait for the hens to start searing and brown a little 3-4 minutes. Once the skin lifts without sticking, flip them over. Sear for an additional 3-4 minutes.
Add vegetables to the empty spaces and sides in the pan, surrounding the hen. Using a heat-proof spatula or spoon, mix the veggies around a little to cover them in the hen juices.
Place your skillet, uncovered, in the center of the oven. Roast on 400 for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 385 degrees and roast for an additional 20-25 minutes, or until skin in golden brown, and juices run clear when the tip of a knife is inserted between the leg and thigh area.
Remove from oven and allow to set for 7 minutes. Serve hen and vegetables, warm with a salad or even with your favorite rice. Enjoy!