Sweet Citrus and Herb Bouquet-Stuffed Cornish Game Hens with Orange Marmalade Glaze  

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

4 cornish game hens (roughly 1 ½ lbs each), rinsed and dried off
• Sea salt
• Freshly cracked black pepper
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley, stems trimmed down
16 sprigs fresh thyme (about half a package)
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 lemons, sliced into 8 thin slices
2 small oranges, sliced into 8 thin slices
• Orange Marmalade Glaze (recipe below)

Preparation:

(*I seasoned and stuffed the hens 48 hrs in advance, placed them on a plate and then into a jumbo-sized zip-lock bag, and refrigerated them until an hour before roasting time—this imparted a lot of flavor into the hens; if you don’t have 48 hrs, then overnight is fine, too, if you’re looking for that little bit of extra “oomph” in the flavor department.)

-Preheat oven to 375; line a baking sheet with foil, and place a wire rack onto the baking sheet.

-Prepare the cornish game hens by liberally seasoning them, both inside the cavity and out, with the sea salt (about 1 tablespoons worth), the freshly cracked black pepper and the Italian seasoning.

-Next, prepare your herb bouquets by dividing the small bunch of flat-leaf parsley into 4 portions; add to the parsley about 4 sprigs of the fresh thyme and 1 sprig of the fresh rosemary, and tie the herb bouquet into a little bundle with some string (I used simple sewing thread), just to help the bouquets to stay together.

-Stuff one bouquet into the cavity of each hen, then stuff 2 slices of lemon and 2 slices of orange into the cavity as well; and place the hens on a wire rack, breast side up (I chose not to truss my hens, but you can if you prefer).

-Before placing the hens into the oven, brush some of the Orange Marmalade Glaze all over each hen (save some glaze to apply during the roasting). Now place the hens into the oven to roast on the lower-middle rack. After about 20 minutes, brush some more of the glaze over the hens, then continue to roast. After another 20 minutes, brush the hens with more glaze, then continue to roast for another 20-35 minutes, depending on the size of the hens. The total roasting time for the hens should be approx. 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, or until the internal temp reads 160° when inserted into the thigh and the juices run clear.

*If the skin begins to brown too much, simply cover the hens loosely with some foil, lightly sprayed with cooking spray, to prevent them from getting too dark.

-Once roasted, remove the hens from the oven, and allow them to rest for about 10-15 minutes; serve the hens while hot, one whole hen per person, with additional slices of fresh citrus for garnish, if you desire.

Orange Marmalade Glaze ingredients:

½ cup orange marmalade
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed orange juice

Preparation:

-Add the orange marmalade and the orange juice to a small pot set over medium-low heat, and stir to incorporate; once the mixture comes to the simmer, reduce the heat to low, and allow the mixture to simmer for about 10-12 minutes, until slightly reduced, stirring occasionally; once reduced, strain the mixture into a small bowl, and allow it to cool for about 20-25 minutes (it will also thicken up slightly) before using to glaze the hens.