Roasted Cornish Hens with Garlic and Dill

Fresh dill is quite a common seasoning in Eastern European cooking. Growing up, I generally hated it, but have warmed up to its distinctively aromatic grassy flavor. As with most things edible, I find that garlic is a great compliment to this robust herb. Since dill loses some of its flavor in the cooking process, I generously garnished the bird with fresh chopped dill and barely-cooked garlic in butter.

You can certainly cook the hens whole, but I find that spatchcocking them (removing the spine and flattening them) both speeds up the cooking process and makes them a little easier to dig into.

Ingredients
1/2 cup tightly packed fresh dill sprigs, minced
8 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 Cornish Game Hens
salt and pepper, to taste

Garnish:
1/2 cup tightly packed fresh dill sprigs, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons butter
4 cloves garlic, minced

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. In a small bowl, combine dill, garlic and olive oil.
  3. To spatchcock the Cornish hen, get some strong, sharp scissors (or poultry shears) and cut down either side of the spine, take out the spine, then press down on the breast to open it out flat. Generously season all sides of each hen with salt and freshly-ground black pepper. Lay the hens out, breast side up, on a baking sheet lined with a baking rack.
  4. Smother all sides of each hen with the dill and garlic mixture. Roast until the Cornish hens are reddish-gold on top, and cooked through, about 30 to 40 minutes.
  5. To serve: Place hens on their serving dish and top with fresh chopped dill. Place butter and minced garlic in a small frying pan over medium heat. Allow butter to melt and garlic to sizzle for about a minute (garlic should not brown), and pour over the chopped dill on the hens.
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