DC-Inspired Recipes: Cornish Game Hen from Eastern Market by Laura

“DC-inspired recipes” are written by Laura from Lauralicious In DC.

This week’s recipe comes straight from an Eastern Market vendor. Ever in the mood for some poultry that’s different from ho-hum-yawn chicken breasts? I like to try something new on occasion. However, before cooking new foods, I have to know that the dish isn’t going to require that I buy extra equipment or invest in seldom-used ingredients.

Recently, I picked up some cornish game hens while shopping the fresh meat counter at Eastern Market. If you’re like me, and have never tried this poultry before, I can tell you these birds are cheap and easy. Objective No. 1: make sure any unusual meat products will not require ridiculous preparation wizardry. From the label, and from talking to the vendor, I determined that cooking a game hen would not require any special roasting pans, magic wands, or slaving over a hot stove. Objective No. 2: make sure essential ingredients are ones I can use again. Luckily, when I talked to the vendor, he was kind enough to suggest what seasonings to cook with a hen. The ingredients were all items I had in my cupboard or that I buy often. Objective No. 3: Only buy as much as I can finish in 1-2 days. This one’s already taken care of – a hen’s no bigger than about 3 moderate servings. Suggested ingredients in hand, I came up with my interpretation of the recipe at home. Here’s Eastern Market’s recipe for Cornish Game Hen.

Full recipe after the jump.

Lemon-Garlic Cornish Game Hen:
-Lemon or lemon juice
-Soy sauce
-Garlic or garlic powder
-Black Pepper

1. Preparation of seasonings: Squeeze the lemon juice from 1/2 lemon, and mince the garlic with a press.
2. Preparation of the hen: unwrap it and pull out the giblets. ‘Giblets’ is a fancy word for “plastic bag of innards in your hen.” It is not as gross as it sounds, as they are already wrapped in a bag for you. I am sure there is some savvy person out there who knows what to do with these, but since cooking a hen is enough work for me, this savvy person can look in my trash can for the giblets.
3. Season the hen: Rub the black pepper and garlic on the bird. Then mix together the soy sauce and lemon juice (at your own preferred ratio), and brush onto the hen.
4. Cook according to package instructions for about 1 1/4 hours. Yes, it takes awhile, but it’s all while it’s in the oven (not while you’re standing over a stove). So have a pre-dinner cocktail and/or catch up on your favorite TV shows in the meantime!

Cost: Under $5 for the hen, and 50 cents for the fresh lemon (I already had the other ingredients).

Any of you know what to do with those giblets? Got any other favorite non-standard poultry you buy in DC?

7 Comment

  • I boil the giblets and give them to my dog (after they’ve cooled off.)

    1 1/4 hours?! At what temp? Sounds like a dry, overcooked bird to me. I cook them on my grill (butterlied, and rubbed or marinated) and they take about 30-45 minutes.

  • Chop em up and fry in olive oil with a little oregano. Very tasty!

    Unfortunately, the first thing I thought of when I saw the photo, was Gulf oil disaster.

  • my mother used to cook these for thanksgiving instead of turkey!

  • Out of curiosity, which poultry vendor in the Market did this recipe come from?

  • Great !

    Good recipe. Economical, too.

    Thanks, Laura.

  • Delicious. And in case they sound too exotic, cornish game hens are just young chickens. They are neither cornish nor game nor necessarily hens.

  • Whether you buy the cornish hen at Eastern or Florida Market, they are in white plastic bags and come pretty much from the same place as Safeway or Giant. So don’t bother overpaying at Eastern Market for a cornish hen unless it’s free-range or organic.

    (The Wild Boar, Sage and White Wine sausages at Canales Meats are another story. Had them last night & OMG were they great!)


    As for giblets, boil them in water and skim the scum off (blood). Then either cool & chop for giblet gravy or give them to the dog as the other commenter suggests. Use the cooking liquid/broth for gravy or base for soup. (Which is why you need to strain/skim it.) If you want the broth for soup, then add in celery, onion, & carrot. (mirepoix veggies)

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