Roast Cornish Hens with Sage Butter

Total Time:
1 hr
20 min
40 min

4 servings

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon crumbled dried sage
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 (1 1/2-pound) Cornish hens, rinsed and patted dry
  • In a small bowl blend together 4 tablespoons of the butter with the sage, zest, and salt. Loosen the skin covering the breast meat on each hen by slipping your fingers under the skin and sliding them between the skin and the meat. Divide the butter mixture between the hens, inserting it under the skin of each hen and smoothing it evenly by rubbing the outside of the skin, and season the hens with salt and pepper. Tie each hen's legs together with kitchen string. In a large ovenproof heavy skillet, or small flameproof roasting pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons butter over moderately high heat until the foam subsides. In it saute the hens, breast sides up, for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the underside is golden brown, and roast them in the middle of a preheated 450 degree oven, basting them with the pan juices every 10 minutes, for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted in the fleshy part of the thigh registers 180 degrees. Let the hens stand for 5 minutes, then discard the string.

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