Cornish Hens with Apples and Parsnips – Thanksgiving Pregame

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Have you ever had a Cornish Hen?

I feel like anything in miniature-sized is always exciting. Chickens are no exception. I’d say they’re cute but there is something morbid about called a fun-sized, dead chicken cute.


The flavors surrounding this roast is a little unorthodox. It feels very German with the beautiful scent of caraway seeds and the subtle but sweet inclusion of apples. The apples don’t add a dessert-like effect to the dish but rather a break from the savory stimulation of the onions and garlic. Also, we’re basting the chickens with a nice ale. You can’t get more German than beer!

Also – parsnips. Parsnips, though easily found in all grocery stores, are one of the most neglected yet wonderful root vegetables. They taste somewhere between a potato and a carrot and have an interesting herbaceous after-note. The parsnips compliment the caraway seeds and the apples incredibly well. Don’t skip them. You’ll be sorry.

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All of this together equates to a kitchen filled with heady smells and an easy roast dinner that will certainly put you in the mood for that big Thanksgiving meal in your near future.

And in my house, we make gravy. You’ll have gravy or get out.

Just kidding, please stay for dinner. Please?

Cornish Hens with Apples and Parsnips

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 Cornish Hens
  • Olive oil
  • 1 1/2  tsps Granulated or Powdered Garlic
  • 1 tsp of caraway seeds
  • 2 medium granny smith apples
  • 2 medium parsnips
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup of beer (not dark beer)
  • Salt and Pepper

For the Gravy:

  • Chicken and veggie drippings left in the pan
  • 2 cups of chicken stock
  • 3 tblsps of butter
  • 3 tblsps of flour
  • the rest of your bottle of beer (about 1/2 cup)
  • Salt and Pepper
  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Cut up your apples and parsnips into 1 inch wedges. In your large roasting pan, toss your apples, parsnips and onions with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and salt and pepper. Distribute the vegetables evenly and make a space in the middle for the hens to sit.
  3. In a small bowl, make a mixture of the garlic powder, 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the caraway seeds. Pat your hens dry and place them in the middle of your roasting pan. Massage your oil and garlic and caraway mixture all over the surface of the hens.
  4. Place in your preheated oven for 45 minutes. Right at the 30 minute mark, you’ll want to slowly pour 1 cup of your favorite beer (nothing too dark – so no Guinness or chocolate stouts. I suggest a Belgian Ale or a Hefeweizen or any convenient wheat beer) over the hens and the vegetables.
  5. After 45 minutes, raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and let the hens bake for another 15 minutes or until the juices run clear.
  6. When finished, carefully transfer the hens to a serving platter and surround with the roasted vegetables. Cover loosely with foil and work on the gravy.

For the gravy:

  1. In the same pan that you roasted your hens in, place it on your burners ( I generally use the front and the rear burners on one side of the stove). Melt the three tablespoons of butter and sprinkle the three tablespoons of flour over the butter. Stir constantly for 1 minute, making sure that you scrape up those lovely bits at the bottom of the pan.
  2. Pour in your 1/2 cup of beer and stir, letting the flour and beer mixture come to a bubble for half a minute or so. Pour in the chicken stock and continue to stir. Bring the gravy to a bubble and let it simmer for 2 minutes or until the gravy thickens. At the end, salt and pepper that beautiful beast to taste.

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How to eat:

  1. Rip apart those tiny chickens.
  2. Scoop some roasted vegetables generously onto your plate.
  3. Drown in gravy.
  4. Celebrate your life and stuff your face.

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