Cornish game hen with whiskey and cream sauce. Is the perfect last-minute get-together dinner meal.
Easy to prepare, and half of a hen is the perfect balance between white and dark meat. I always have two in my freezer.
My go-to when I do not have time to cook a larger chicken.
I love that you can present a whole for the hungry crowd or half of a cornish game hen in a plate, and it looks fantastic.
Cornish hens can be substituted with a small chicken. Do, however, use the same technique on splitting it. You do have to cook a chicken a bit longer. Adjust your timing accordingly.
Make more sauce by increasing the amount of whiskey, cream, and shallots.
In this Article
- What is a cornish hen or cornish game hen?
- What is Herbs de Provence?
- Cooking tips and how to make cornish game hen with whiskey
- TIPS on Cooking with alcohol
- Equipment Needed
- Shop This Post
- Cooking tips and step by step to prepare this fantastic cornish hen with whiskey and cream sauce
- What to Serve With It
- Substitutes and additions
- Frequently Asked Questions
- If you enjoyed this cornish game hen with whiskey recipe, look at some of my other recipes.
- Equipment and ingredients used to make this Roasted Cornish Game Hen with Whiskey Sauce
- Cornish Game Hen with Whiskey and Cream Sauce
What is a cornish hen or cornish game hen?
A rock cornish game hen, or simply called a cornish game hen, looks like a miniature chicken. Petite in size with a very tender texture of meat and flavor.
Less fatty as well thus if substituting with a chicken keep that in consideration and season with less oil or butter.
They must weigh between 1 and 2 pounds.
What is Herbs de Provence?
Herbs de Provence, are an aromatic mixture of dried marjoram, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and lavender flowers.
Used in most southern French cooking, it gives a fantastic savory taste to most poultry, meats, and pork.
Of course, if you do not have any on hand, you can create your own jar by mixing the above herbs. You can omit lavender as it is not an herb that most of us have on hand.
Store all dry herbs in an airtight container away from direct sunlight.
By having a small herb garden, I cut all the fresh herbs and let them dry out in the open air. Once dry I break them down and store them.
Easy way to use herbs all year round.
Cooking tips and how to make cornish game hen with whiskey
When ready to cook your cornish hen recipe with whiskey sauce, I recommend having all your ingredients ready.
- I always like to dry with paper towels the cavity of each hen.
- You can keep the hens whole and split them. That is all up to you. I instead split them as it takes a little less time to roast them.
- Use either a roasting pan or a heavy baking pan. Bake until golden brown. Remove the hens from the oven and cover them with foil to let them rest.
- Do not use a glass or non-stove top roasting pan, as you will have to finish the sauce in the roasting pan. All the drippings make a fantastic sauce. It would be a pity to lose them.
- Be very careful when handling the roasting pan, as it is hot when placed on the stove.
- Thinly slice the shallots. They will give the best flavor and cook evenly.
- Use good French Dijon mustard. I do not recommend the grainy old fashion mustard or honey mustard either.
TIPS on Cooking with alcohol
The whiskey evaporates as it cooks, leaving a wonderful bold flavor in the cream and butter. Cognac can be used instead of whiskey. As well as bourbon.
Be extremely careful when placing alcohol in a skillet. I always remove the skillet from the heat source and turn it off.
Placing the alcohol in the middle of the pan is also a safe way of doing it
Always keep your eyes on the skillet, of course, however pouring away from you, and keep all loose clothing away from the heat source too.
When returning to the stove, start with a low flame and increase. Gently swirl it around and add the cream.
Serve the cooked cornish with the lemon slices and top with the sauce.
Cutting board – wooden preferable as it is gentler on your knives
Sharp Chef’s knife – Always sharpen your knives to make slicing and cutting easier
Heavy roasting pan – large enough to hold your cornish hens. Heavy will transfuse the heat more evenly
Aluminum foil – to cover your cornish hen while preparing the sauce
Wooden spoon – easier to mix
Lemon press – to squeeze the lemon
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Cooking tips and step by step to prepare this fantastic cornish hen with whiskey and cream sauce
For the Cornish Game Hen
- Preheat the oven to 450º and place the rack in the middle position.
- Start by placing a hen on a cutting board, with the breast side facing down. Remove the backbone by carefully cutting along both sides using shears or a large, sharp knife.
- Flip the hen over and use your palm to flatten it by pressing down on the breastbone. Proceed to split the hen in half along the breastbone. Repeat the process with the remaining hen.
- Place the hen on a heavy roasting pan and evenly spread ¼ teaspoon of butter, Herbs de Provence, salt, and pepper on each half. Drizzle a drop of olive oil over it.
- Transfer the pan to the preheated oven and roast for 30 to 45 minutes.
- Occasionally, prod the hen while cooking to release any flavorful juices.
- Once finished, take the hen out of the oven and transfer it to a dish. Cover it with aluminum foil and allow it to rest.
For the Whiskey and Cream Sauce
- Place the unwashed cooking pan on the stove and add two tablespoons of butter. Allow it to melt over low heat.
- Gradually pour in the whiskey while ensuring a slow and steady pour. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any bits stuck in the pan.
- Sauté the shallots until tender, approximately 1 minute. Then, add the Worcestershire sauce and mustard, increasing the heat to medium-high. Stir constantly as you bring the mixture to a boil.
- To enrich the sauce, add the heavy cream and the lemon juice. Taste and season accordingly with salt and pepper.
- Drizzle the piping hot sauce over the succulent Cornish hen for a delectable serving.
What to Serve With It
Rice with butter and peas was the perfect pairing. I added some wild rice just because I wanted something different.
Mashed potatoes or roasted potatoes go well, too as they facilitate enjoying the sauce with it.
We enjoyed a nice glass of Nebbiolo red wine alongside.
A variety of side dishes pair well with this dish. You could serve it with a simple green salad, roasted vegetables, or even a warm lentil salad.
A side of crusty bread would also be delicious to mop up any leftover sauce.
Substitutes and additions
- For those who do not consume alcohol, the whiskey can be replaced with a strong-flavored broth, like beef or chicken broth.
- Instead of using Herbs de Provence, you can mix your own combination of dried herbs like rosemary, thyme, and marjoram.
- To add a bit of crunch and extra flavor, add toasted pine nuts or slivered almonds to the dish.
- Consider adding roasted garlic to your sauce for an extra layer of flavor.
- If you like your dishes spicy, consider adding a dash of chili flakes or a spoonful of hot sauce to the recipe.
Store any leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate them. They should be safe to consume for up to 3 to 4 days.
If you want to freeze the cooked Cornish hens, let them cool completely before transferring them into freezer-safe bags or containers. Be sure to date the containers and consume the dish within 2 to 3 months for the best quality.
To reheat, thaw overnight in the refrigerator and warm in the oven. Always ensure the dish is heated through before serving.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use other poultry instead of Cornish Game Hen?
Absolutely. This recipe is quite versatile and can also be used with other types of poultry. Chicken or quail would make a good substitute. However, keep in mind that the cooking time may vary depending on the size of the bird.
How can I make this dish vegetarian?
To make this dish vegetarian, you can replace the Cornish hen with portobello mushrooms or firm tofu. The sauce will still complement these substitutes beautifully. Remember to adjust the cooking times accordingly.
Can I prepare this dish ahead of time?
Yes, you can prepare the hens and the sauce a day ahead. Store them separately in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to cook, take them out, let them come to room temperature, and then proceed with the recipe as instructed.
Is it possible to make this dish dairy-free?
To create a dairy-free version of this dish, replace the butter with a dairy-free alternative like olive oil or coconut oil. You can substitute the cream with a non-dairy creamer or coconut milk. Keep in mind these substitutions may alter the taste slightly.
If you enjoyed this cornish game hen with whiskey recipe, look at some of my other recipes.
Equipment and ingredients used to make this Roasted Cornish Game Hen with Whiskey Sauce
Cornish Game Hen with Whiskey and Cream Sauce
- 2 Cornish hen
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 shallots, finely sliced
- ⅓ cup whiskey
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- Herbs de Province, a big pinch
FOR THE CORNISH GAME HEN
- Preheat the oven at 450º and position the rack in the middle of the oven.
- Place a hen, breast side down on a cutting board. Remove the backbone by cutting along both sides with shears or a large sharp knife.
- Flip the hen and flatten it by pressing down on the breastbone with your palm. Split the hen in two along the breastbone. Repeat with the remaining hen.
- When done, remove from the oven, place the hen in a dish and cover with aluminum foil and let rest.
FOR THE WHISKEY AND CREAM SAUCE
- Place the unwashed cooking pan over the stove and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and let it melt. Lower the heat and add the whiskey, very slowly. With a wooden spoon scrape up any bit on the pan.
- Add the shallots and cook until tender, 1 minute. Add the Worcestershire sauce, mustard and raise the heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil stirring constantly
- Add the heavy cream and the lemon juice. Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper.
- Serve hot over the Cornish hen.
Giangi’s Kitchen provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as a registered dietician does not calculate them.
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Originally published on January 16, 2022. Updated on September 8, 2023.